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Dodgers 2B Chase Utley expects hostile reception at Citi Field

NEW YORK -- Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley knows he is in store for a hostile reception this weekend at Citi Field, when he again has to face New York Mets fans.

Utley broke since-released Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada's right leg with an aggressive slide in Game 2 of the National League Division Series in October.

Mets fans chanted "We want Utley!" during the next two games in Queens, but Utley appeared in neither game. He then pinch hit in the winner-take-all Game 5 at Dodger Stadium.

The Mets passed on retribution during a four-game series earlier this month in Los Angeles, but Mets fans are not expected to forgive and forget -- especially during what should be a raucous weekend with the '86 Mets in town to be honored.

The Mets and Dodgers open a three-game series on Friday, with 19-year-old left-hander Julio Urias set to make his major league debut opposite 2015 All-Star Jacob deGrom.

"Looking back on it -- knowing that he was going to spin, he wasn't going to get off his feet -- I would have done things differently, knowing that he was going to get hurt," Utley told the Los Angeles Times this week. "But I can't take that back. So I imagine the fans will let me have it."

Bob Geren, who was the Mets' bench coach last season and now serves in the same capacity with the Dodgers, took to Utley's defense. Geren told the L.A. Times: "I'm trying to think, in all my years, if I know anybody I've ever either played with or coached or managed that's a better baseball player. I can't think of one. ... Your player got hurt, so everybody was upset about it. But you look at it, and that was just the way the game has been played since I played. In fact, I've seen some of the other ones in the '70s that were incredible."

Still, in the aftermath of Utley's slide, Major League Baseball and the players' association have changed the sliding rules. Runners must now clearly begin their slide before second base. Utley's slide was late and into Tejada.

Utley originally was suspended two games, but that suspension was vacated during spring training before being served.

The L.A. Times reported that Utley's family received death threats in the aftermath of the slide and he felt compelled to stay in a different hotel from his teammates while in New York during the NLDS.

"Chase was playing the game the way he's always played," Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw told the newspaper. "Obviously you never want anybody to get hurt. The game being in the playoffs, and all that stuff, magnified everything. But there's been a whole lot of slides a lot worse than that over the course of baseball [history]. ... Some of the stuff he had to go through -- it wasn't fair."


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