NEW YORK -- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he didn't start Chase Utley in Monday's 13-7 loss to the Mets in Game 3 of the National League Division Series because of a "baseball decision," but added that he talked to Utley about safety concerns for the infielder and his family after Saturday night's controversial slide in Game 2 that broke the leg of Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada.
Because Utley is appealing a two-game suspension imposed for what Major League Baseball has termed an illegal slide, he is eligible to play until the appeal process concludes and will be on the Dodgers' bench. He was roundly booed during the pregame introductions on Monday.
"We've had numerous conversations since the other night, with all the stuff off the field that has happened, and just all the stir about it and just to make sure he was physically good," said Mattingly. "Those type of things and make sure he felt comfortable as far as being safe, make sure his family felt comfortable as far as being safe, those type of issues. Those are the things that get in your mind.
"Chase has played a long time, played in big games. So I don't think the moment has got anything -- that part of it you don't worry about him being ready for that. You worry about does all that other stuff get in there and make sure he's comfortable with MLB security, MLB taking care of all the issues ... obviously stuff that when those kind of things get talked about, you know you're over the line.
"But in today's society I don't think you can take that lightly, and so I just wanted to make sure he's comfortable, his family is comfortable, really all our families are comfortable in that situation, that everybody is keeping -- you keep this thing in perspective."
As he did Sunday night before the suspension was announced, Mattingly defended Utley's play, which triggered a national debate about the fine line between an aggressive slide and a dirty one.
"I watched 'The Show' today a little bit, and they showed four slides," said Mattingly. "They showed the Didi Gregorius slide in the game, the Yankees and the Astros, on [Jose] Altuve. They showed, I think it was [Rougned] Odor slide against the Angels and [Johnny] Giavotella. They showed Matt Holliday's slide in a Division Series or Championship Series against the Giants. All really, really similar. Nobody got suspended."
Teammate Clayton Kershaw hinted that the discipline meted out by Mattingly's former mentor, MLB chief baseball officer Joe Torre, might have been politically motivated.
"I feel like MLB got maybe a little bit bullied into suspending him," said Kershaw, who starts Game 4 on Tuesday night. "Never happened before. I've seen slides a lot worse.
"The main thing I want to say is we all feel bad for what happened to Ruben. That's a terrible thing. You never want to see that happen. It's devastating. You never want to see a guy get hurt. With that said, there's a lot of people that have a lot of different opinions about it that probably shouldn't because they're not middle infielders and they have no idea what they're talking about. And I'll just kind of leave it at that."
Mattingly said an unscheduled pregame meeting with MLB officials would be held Monday night, implying it would involve on-field deportment, but so far no warnings had been issued.
"So I'm assuming we're going to have some type of conversation about representing ourselves and the game and all that, those type of things, which I think this is the time of year you want people watching the game and you want them to see a great product," he said. "And I think we're all for that. So I think we'll be having some type of conversations about representing that.
"We want to play hard," he said. "Again, we're not trying to hurt anybody. We're just playing the game, that you're trying to break up two right there. We're going to play baseball."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.