Cardinals, Cubs comment on Utley's slide

Cardinals, Cubs comment on Utley's slide

CHICAGO -- After seeing Chase Utley's hard slide lead to a fractured right fibula for Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada in the Dodgers' 5-2 win on Saturday night, the topic of keeping middle infielders safe was a prevalent issue as the Cardinals and Cubs reported to Wrigley Field on Sunday afternoon.

The two clubs face off in Game 3 on Monday at 6 p.m. ET on TBS.

Neither side came to a particularly strong conclusion, but both were in agreement that Tejada's injury was unfortunate for him and the Mets.

Game Date Results
Gm 1 Oct. 9 STL 4, CHC 0
Gm 2 Oct. 10 CHC 6, STL 3
Gm 3 Oct. 12 CHC 8, STL 6
Gm 4 Oct. 13 CHC 6, STL 4

Trying to break up a double play at second base in Game 2 of the National League Division Series, Utley slid wide of second base and slammed into Tejada, who suffered the severe leg injury as he flipped and landed awkwardly.

"I think that was a very negative outcome and a very unfortunate situation, but as far as the slide goes, I didn't really have a problem with it," said Cardinals infielder Matt Carpenter. "I think Utley plays the game as hard and as old-school as any guy, and he came in trying to break up a double play and it ended in an unfortunate deal."

Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo took greater issue with Utley, saying, "I personally don't agree with the slide." Rizzo thought Utley came in to second base too high.

Cubs shortstop Addison Russell echoed Carpenter's sentiment about the slide itself, though Russell noted that Utley should have started it farther away from second base.

"Even during the regular season you're trying to break that play up. You're trying to do anything you can to help your team win and get on base," Russell said. "I think it's a little tricky. I think he did a good job trying to break it up, and I think Tejada did a good job to get off his feet."

Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong called the injury "scary," and he suggested that Major League Baseball could "tinker with," but not overhaul, the rules regarding slides into second base on force plays. Kolten said doesn't want to ban takeout slides completely, but like everyone else, he believes there's a safer way for those slides to be executed.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was a vocal proponent of the recent rules that have helped protect catchers from home-plate collisions. Matheny expects a similar discussion this offseason regarding middle infielders.

"We're trying to keep our players on the field and put a better product out there," Matheny said. "Can we maintain the deep roots of this game by small adjustments that keep players, or at least increase the odds, of keeping them safe and on the field?"

The debate hit somewhat close to home for the Cubs, who were involved in a notable collision at second base last month. Cubs leftfielder Chris Coghlan took a hard slide into second base to break up a double play, crashing into Pirates rookie Jung Ho Kang, and ending Kang's season in the process.

Cubs catcher David Ross said Coghlan "still feels terrible" about the resulting injury Kang suffered. Ross added he believes there is a "night and day" difference between Coghlan's slide and Utley's.

Kang was in the act of throwing the ball, whereas Tejada was still turning around to make a throw to first base.

"I was brought up to play hard and break up a double play at all costs, especially when you got that situation where it would tie the ballgame with that run. I understand it," Ross said. "I think there's a better way. Maybe it's an instant replay thing, where if it's so late that if they replay it and they see if this guy wasn't intending for the bag, then he's out and it's a double play."

Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.