Utley: I Knew Syndergaard Was Going To Hit Me

Chase Utley knew he was going to get plunked, but then something unexpected happened...

Taz and the Moose
May 01, 2019 - 10:50 am
Chase Utley Los Angeles Dodgers

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In Game 2 of the 2015 NLDS, Chase Utley slid into second base hoping to break up a double play. Instead, he broke Ruben Tejada’s leg.

If Utley could do it over again, he would.

“Knowing the outcome, obviously I would change it,” Utley said in studio on Taz & The Moose. “I had no intent of trying to hurt Tejada whatsoever, but I was going in hard. It was the playoffs. I was going in hard, and that’s what I was taught to do ever since I was in college: you got to go in hard, try to break up the double play. Unfortunately, we collided in an awkward angle and awkward time.”

The Dodgers won the game, but Utley received a two-game suspension and the Mets won the series in five.

“I would change it and go back and maybe let up a little bit on my slide knowing that his leg was going to break,” Utley said. “But when you’re in the moment, you can’t think about that.”

In May 2016, Utley faced the Mets for the first time since the slide. He walked to the plate against Noah Syndergaard, knowing he was going to get hit.

“It wasn’t going to be the first time I’d been hit, especially probably on purpose,” Utley said. “But listen, I get it. I kind of grew up in an old-school coaches’ mentality, and that’s what I believed in. Obviously I didn’t try to hurt them, but if that happened to one of our guys, we would do the same thing. That’s how baseball policed itself back then. Now there’s some injuries that guys want to avoid, and I totally understand that. So I was ready for it. I was going to take my base.”

Syndergaard wound up throwing behind Utley and was ejected. Utley responded with two home runs, including a grand slam, in a 9-1 Dodgers win.

Utley, 40, also discussed other baseball topics with Taz & The Moose, including the rising number of strikeouts.

“The game is just evolving and changing,” he said. “My first year in the big leagues, there were two or three guys in a bullpen that threw 95 and above. Now you see a bullpen, everyone is throwing 97, 98. So obviously pitching is better. Guys are throwing harder, you’re probably a little bit more uncomfortable in the batter’s box than I was when I was 26 compared to 36. The game is just evolving. Hitters are stronger, they’re getting better, they’re doing their homework a little bit more. So to see the strikeouts go up, it doesn’t surprise me that much only because the pitching is a little bit better than it was 10 years ago.”

Utley, a six-time All-Star, helped the Phillies to the 2008 World Series title. That team was as tight-knit as it gets. 

“No doubt, 100 percent,” Utley said. “Obviously we played together on the field, but we hung out away from the field. We would go to dinner, we would have a couple drinks together – it was a good bond that we had. On the teams that I’ve been on over the course of the years, you notice the better ones spend more time with each other away from the stadium.”

Click below to listen to Utley’s interview in its entirety.