Ruben Tejada rejoined the New York Mets at Port St. Lucie training facilities on Monday after suffering a broken leg during the NL Division Series, when Dodgers infielder Chase Utley crashed in to him in an effort to break up a double play.
Video of the play shows that Utley, who still faces a two game suspension for the incident, slid far beyond second base to impede Tejada’s attempt at throwing to first base for the out. The break of Tejada’s fibula resulted in the Mets losing the 26-year-old shortstop for the rest of the playoffs and the World Series.
“I feel really good now, I started running in late December,’’ said the native of Panama, who began working out at the Mets pre-camp. Spring training officially opens on Wednesday for the National League Champions. They lace up their cleats for their first preseason game on March 3 against the Nationals.
According to the NY Post, free agent Asdrubal Cabrera takes over for the Mets at shortstop, but Tejada remains hopeful to capture his pre-injury form. “I’m going to keep working hard, you never know what is going to happen here. I want to stay focused all the time,’’ he said.
Breitbart News reported last week that MLB plans to change the rule governing slides into bases to prevent injuries like Tejada’s. The new rule—destined to be known as the Chase Utley Rule—aims to ensure that runners either touch the base or make an effort to touch the base when sliding.
Tejada expressed his appreciation for the fans and his teammates who warmly greeted him when he limped on to the field during warmups for game 3 of the NLDS.
“The team and the fans really supported me,’’ the fallen hero said. “I’m really happy with the fans supporting me. I’m really happy with the team supporting me in that situation. It is something I will never forget.”
Tejada, however, has yet to come around to appreciating Chase Utley. Although receiving a gift package from the recently re-signed Dodgers infielder, Tejada says he hasn’t received an apology or spoken to Utley since the infamous collision.
“I know it’s part of the game, but not like that,’’ Tejada maintains. “I would never do that to another infielder. That is the position I play and I would never want to hurt another player that plays that position like that. It would have been different if some other position player, a corner infielder or an outfielder had done that to me, but he is an middle infielder, he should know better.’’
Utley appealed his two-game suspension and claims that it would be inappropriate to comment until the MLB rules on the matter. However, the 37-year-old Utley maintains that he was within the rules and made a “hard, aggressive slide to break up a double play in a playoff game.”
The appeal originally scheduled for last October will likely be heard sometime before the season begins in April.