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Chase Utley sends Dioner Navarro to the hospital

Aug 7, 2013, 9:31 PM EDT

Chase Utley celebrated his new contract tonight by barreling over Cubs catcher Dioner Navarro in a collision at home plate, resulting in an out for the Phillies and a trip to the hospital with at least a leg injury for Navarro.

Here’s the GIF of the collision from our own Bill Baer:

Utley made as if he were going to slide into home plate on the play, only to pull a changeup at the last second and barrel into Navarro, shoulder first. In Utley’s defense, Navarro had set up on the plate before receiving the throw, inviting the collision. Utley, though, did have an opening with which to slide between Navarro’s legs. Instead of taking it, he decided to risk injury to both himself and Navarro.

Of course, Utley can afford to do that, considering he’s made $85 million in his career and he just today signed a $27 million deal that takes him through 2015. Navarro is a free agent at season’s end, and if he misses the rest of the year, he could lose a couple of million dollars on his next contract. With the way he’s played this year — he entered the night with a .289/.363/.500 line and nine homers in 152 at-bats — he could have been setting himself up for a two-year contract worth $5 million-$6 million this winter.

  1. greenkeeper15 - Aug 7, 2013 at 9:44 PM

    No he decided to make the right play. Plate was blocked so lets slide straight in with two bad knees and get stuffed. Running around third thought process, how much money does everyone make should I slide or run through hmmm . dude you are a fool

    • Matthew Pouliot - Aug 8, 2013 at 12:19 AM

      The right play ended up with him risking injury and out anyway? What would have happened if he had chosen the wrong play?

      • Bob Loblaw - Aug 8, 2013 at 12:34 AM

        The RIGHT play is for Navarro to take the throw a little in front of the plate and swipe a tag across the plate BEFORE Utley can slide in. Why is the onus on the RUNNER to move around the catcher who is BLOCKING THE PLATE? No, he’s actually STANDING RIGHT ON THE FRIGGING PLATE.

        I honestly can’t tell whether this is a straight-up troll of Phillies fans or whether you are truly that dense. You are obviously a blogger on a big-time NBC blog site, so you aren’t stupid. But if you don’t watch that play and think ANYTHING except Navarro blocked the plate and Utley did what he had to do, then you are either biased or stupid.

      • Matthew Pouliot - Aug 8, 2013 at 2:32 AM

        I agree entirely about Navarro’s positioning. As I wrote, he invited the collision. Utley, though, had plate to slide to and would have had a better chance of actually scoring had he slid.

        I can’t see any scenario in which the “right” decision is for someone to risk seriously injuring another player. Utley wasn’t trying to injure Navarro, but he was trying to rough him up enough to get him to drop the ball.

      • dan1111 - Aug 8, 2013 at 9:12 AM

        A slide may have been better, but unlike a blogger second-guessing him afterward, Utley did not have the luxury of weighing all the options. He had to make a split-second decision. If he changed at the last moment, it was probably a reflexive reaction to seeing Navarro catch the ball. There wasn’t time to think about it; it is absolutely ridiculous to claim that he “decided to risk injury”.

        Colliding with the catcher is hardly an unusual choice in this situation. Nor does the runner typically get blamed when the catcher is blocking the plate. The only thing that makes this case different is, unfortunately, it caused a serious injury. But surely Utley did not intend that.

        Bringing the amount of money each player makes into it is a complete non sequitur. What is the point even supposed to be? That Utley plays extra recklessly because he makes so much money? That he is a big meanie to play aggressively against poor players who have only made a few million dollars (8 million in this case)?

        This post is complete bunk. There is no reason to single out Utley in this manner. If you object to his role in the collision, you object to the way baseball is played every single day and should argue for a rule change.

      • prionogenic - Aug 8, 2013 at 10:45 AM

        Going shoulder first was probably the safer play for Utley (and Navarro) than sliding into a catcher cleats up. At least with Utley dropping the shoulder into the pads of Navarro the momentum was distributed over a larger area. Moreover, if you watch the replay from Utley’s prospective, there is about an 8 in gap between Navarro’s feet where Utley can slide, but what happens if he slides in and Navarro drops all of his weight on top of the sliding leg and knee?

        I think that Navarro did what he thought was best, but when a catcher blocks a plate like that, they are inviting a collision at the plate. What Utley did, is what you are supposed to do–protect yourself and the plate. Baserunners can’t let catchers own the plate and dictate how they will slide

  2. Stiller43 - Aug 7, 2013 at 9:48 PM

    “In Utley’s defense,…”

    Why does he need any kind of defense? Two baseball players made a baseball play. He didnt aim for his head or do anything dirty. Why do i sense the scorn for utley here?

    Signed,

    Someone who hates philly sports.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Aug 8, 2013 at 12:20 AM

      It was Utley’s shoulder that knocked off Navarro’s face mask. He didn’t aim for the head, but he got a little bit and he certainly could have left Navarro with a head injury with a little less luck.

      • greymares - Aug 8, 2013 at 7:57 AM

        It’s clear you don’t have a clue about the function of either player in this case. Navarro was flat out sitting on the plate, the only reason the small portion of the plate became exposed was he had to rise up to take the bounced throw. Utley wanted to slide and at the last minute was forced to try to dislodge the ball. as an ex-catcher I would have done exactly what Navarro did and as a base runner i would have done exactly what Utley did.

  3. jonirocit - Aug 7, 2013 at 9:52 PM

    Gotta keep catchers off the plate . If he was in front of the dish and dirtbag hit him then its his bad but in this case he was all over the plate . Yes he was trying to light him up but in this case he was camped on the dish .

  4. shmed105 - Aug 7, 2013 at 9:56 PM

    Also, he was safe. Catcher never tug him out with the ball.

    • misterj167 - Aug 7, 2013 at 10:33 PM

      “tug”?

  5. jjschiller - Aug 7, 2013 at 9:56 PM

    I actually think he’d be safe if he’d have slid.

    It looks like there’s plenty of plate there, and I’m not sure Navarro ever got a proper tag on him. If you barrel in the catcher, the ump almost never cares if he actually “tags” you, but if you slide, he does.

    With how Navarro’s left leg is bent, and how he has to reach for the throw, I think he’s in there safe if he just slides.

    • ezthinking - Aug 7, 2013 at 10:03 PM

      and you came to this conclusion after watching the play how many dozen times?

      Sit on the plate, you’ll get hit. Spikes, knees, shoulder, whatever. Sit there, you wear it, whatever it is.

      • jjschiller - Aug 7, 2013 at 10:43 PM

        You’ve got a great point there. Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with what I said.

        Where in my above comment did you read any kind of value-judgement regarding the morality of creaming the catcher?

        I said that there was a gap, and he beat the throw, so a slide might have been better.

      • prionogenic - Aug 8, 2013 at 10:57 AM

        I think the point ezthinking is trying to make is that it was a split-second decision and based on the situation with Navarro camped over the plate, he did what he thought was best in that given senario

    • brewcrewfan54 - Aug 7, 2013 at 11:20 PM

      A slide looked better to you after the fact from the view you saw. A player running full speed at field view probably had a much different view.

      • jjschiller - Aug 7, 2013 at 11:38 PM

        I didn’t suggest otherwise. I’m not criticizing Utley, here. Just making a statement. Call it irony. He knocked the guy out, and didn’t score, whereas if he’d slid, no one would get hurt and he might have been safe.

        No where in any of my comments have been absolutist about anything. I don’t know why everyone is so chippy.

        You can’t point out anything without somehow suggesting that you know better?

  6. neveraboutveracity - Aug 7, 2013 at 10:02 PM

    And if Utley smashes his knee(s) into the catcher’s shin guards, he is out for several weeks because he has bad knees. Stupid angle on this post. The catcher hung onto the ball. He will get a contract.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Aug 8, 2013 at 12:13 AM

      Seriously… did you watch the play? Smashing his knee into Navarro’s shin guards is exactly what Utley did. How this was supposed to be better for his knees than sliding would have have… well, you’ll have to explain that to me.

      http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/?attachment_id=490638

      • unclemosesgreen - Aug 8, 2013 at 5:13 AM

        Look at the photo you posted MP – how’s a guy supposed to slide at a piece of the plate – Utley decided to slide and then adjusted because of Navarro’s positioning. That play was 100% on Navarro. Sorry man, you’re just seeing this wrong.

      • greymares - Aug 8, 2013 at 8:03 AM

        Wow, I’m totally convinced your making a living doing something you know nothing about. I have read post’s from hundreds of people on this sight that obviously know this game better than you.

  7. lanjoith - Aug 7, 2013 at 10:17 PM

    The writer of this story has a big ‘ol girl vagina.

    • fearlessleader - Aug 7, 2013 at 10:26 PM

      So do lots of us at HBT. What’s your point?

    • Wesley Clark - Aug 7, 2013 at 10:30 PM

      As opposed to a big ‘ol boy vagina? (Sexism is awesome by the way. Keep it up!).

  8. cocheese000 - Aug 7, 2013 at 10:25 PM

    Great play. Anytime a catcher blocks the plate they deserve to get blasted.

  9. jcfrey - Aug 7, 2013 at 10:35 PM

    when I saw the title of this post, I knew exactly which slant it would take. But seriously, Chase celebrates contract by slamming into someone? Matthew, you’re a jackass.

    Perhaps a better title would be “Dioner Navarro injured while obstructing home plate.”

  10. allmyteamsareterrible - Aug 7, 2013 at 10:38 PM

    He looks safe to me, what am I missing?

    • hisgirlgotburrelled - Aug 7, 2013 at 11:09 PM

      His left foot didn’t touch home. You can see it on the closer and slower replay.

  11. schmedley69 - Aug 7, 2013 at 10:54 PM

    It was a bang, bang play. There wasn’t a lot of time for Utley to “decide” whether to slide or not. I’m sure that his natural instincts took over. Just like the Buster Posey play a few years ago, it’s a part of the game and there’s not much you can do about it. When a catcher blocks the plate, there’s a good chance that there’s going to be a collision. Blaming one player for the collision is kind of ridiculous.

  12. hisgirlgotburrelled - Aug 7, 2013 at 11:08 PM

    This a bad take on the play, from blaming Utley for Navarro getting injured to talking about contracts.

    You can’t block the plate and go to your knees. That’s why the collision ended up in an injury. You’re going to get bent backwards and your feet are stuck under you. That’s how Posey got hurt. Utley wanted to slide but Navarro had his leg out in front of the plate. From the angle he’s running at towards the plate it doesn’t look like Utley could have just cleanly slid in between his legs. Navarro had the ball and blocked the plate. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the play, other than Navarro should have squatted instead of going to a knee.

    If you’re thinking about money then maybe Navarro shouldn’t have been trying to block the plate like that on a team that’s 13 games under .500… Two players played the game hard and at their best.

  13. danaking - Aug 7, 2013 at 11:22 PM

    Why is it only the runner who is blamed when a catcher blocks the plate and gets hurt? Navarro had the plate blocked well before the ball got there, which is illegal. The ball and the runner got there almost simultaneously. This was a split second judgment call for Utley, and I’m not going to fault him for it. (And I’m a Pirates fan.)

    If catchers don;t want to get hurt on home plate collisions, don’t b;ock the plate. It’s not dome at any other base, but they figure they can get away with it, i guess because they have extra protection. (And baseball considers home plate more important.) Everyone other base requires some form swipe tags. You don’t want to get hurt, get in position and make a proper tag.

  14. dirtyharry1971 - Aug 7, 2013 at 11:36 PM

    Hey if Dioner Navarro wants to block the plate like that what does he think is gonna happen? Clean play by Chase and I hate the phils and I can not complain about that play. Legal all the way so whats with the dumb headline? Should he just stop and get tagged out?

  15. jxegh - Aug 7, 2013 at 11:46 PM

    I’m a fan of Utley – but anytime a runner plows over a catcher it’s a cheap shot. Players are bigger and faster now and there needs to be a rule change.

    • orangandblack - Aug 8, 2013 at 7:32 AM

      Fair enough….let’s start with the rule that allows a catcher to block the plate in the first place.

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Aug 8, 2013 at 7:44 AM

        Exactly. Any other postion can not block the bag before they have the ball

  16. acdc84 - Aug 7, 2013 at 11:47 PM

    Well Navarro is a pathetic excuse for a AA catcher and shouldn’t be considered for an Out at home…

  17. Stiller43 - Aug 8, 2013 at 12:02 AM

    Jxegh,

    By that logic, the catchers are bigger and have better protective gear now.

  18. xmatt0926x - Aug 8, 2013 at 12:11 AM

    Even though I’m a Phillies fan I usually never jump in on these type of things when they pop up, but it’s been a while since I’ve read such a juvenile outlook by one of the bloggers on this site. Then of course after reading the article I didn’t have to look at the author to know who wrote it. The biggest jagoff child this site has to offer.

    Utley can afford to do it because he has his new contract, unlike the poor catcher who will be a free agent. Yes, we all know there’s part troll in this douche’s antics, but I don’t think craig would stoop to this pathetic level to garner a few extra clicks. But, as Matthew has said many times before when confronted on yet another low brow post, “hey, I’m just a blogger. I never implied I was a journalist”.

    What a joke.

    • Bob Loblaw - Aug 8, 2013 at 12:20 AM

      +10000000000000000000

  19. eagles512 - Aug 8, 2013 at 12:23 AM

    It’s called baseball

  20. eagles512 - Aug 8, 2013 at 12:25 AM

    No, he went to slide and saw it was blocked and knew he needed to try to jar it loose. Stevie Wonder could see that.

  21. Stiller43 - Aug 8, 2013 at 12:33 AM

    “It was Utley’s shoulder that knocked off Navarro’s face mask. He didn’t aim for the head, but he got a little bit and he certainly could have left Navarro with a head injury with a little less luck.”

    Yeah and with a LOT less luck, aliens may have abducted both of them before the collision and probed them, maybe even killed them.

    I cant believe someone who loves baseball wants to denegrate a BASEBALL PLAY where no cheap shot happened.

    I finally get why people think you guys troll phillies phans.

  22. brentsalish - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:28 AM

    This kind of stuff could be stopped very easily. The ump takes off his mask, points at the catcher, and calls “Obstruction!” Because that’s what it is. The runner has the right to the entire base without hindrance until the fielder is in possession of the ball. If a few umpires had the guts to call this once or twice, there’d be some yelling and screaming, and after that catchers and runners would stop getting hurt over a silly play. Stand in front of the base or straddle it and do a swipe tag on a bang-bang play.

    • brentsalish - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:28 AM

      (Sorry, meant metaphorical mask. Obviously the physical mask is already off.)

      • blacksables - Aug 8, 2013 at 5:45 AM

        Only problem with your idea is that the umpire can’t call obstruction until the play actually happens, which doesn’t prevent the contact.

        If by some chance, the runner tries to stop and go back towards third, or the third base coach grabs the runner, or something happens that could have changed what did happen, it pre-determines the call.

  23. bigmeechy74 - Aug 8, 2013 at 2:52 AM

    I think it’s awesome that baseball is a non-contact sport but then all of a sudden at home plate it’s more violent than football and hockey. It’s so stupid. So many careers have been ruined. There needs to be a rule change.

  24. paperlions - Aug 8, 2013 at 7:33 AM

    This is actually 100% the fault of umpires for refusing to enforce the rule book. By rule:

    1) A fielder can not block access to any base without possession of the ball. There is no special rule for home plate.

    and

    2) A runner can not do anything to dislodge the ball of a fielder attempting to tag him out (e.g. you can’t run over the SS/2B to knock the ball loose, either). There is no special rule for home plate/catchers.

    If umpires would start calling these plays correctly from both interference and obstruction perspectives, these dumb and pointless collisions wouldn’t happen. Hell, they aren’t even old fashioned, hard nosed baseball….back in the day, catchers didn’t block the plate (they straddled it like other fielders at other bases), and runners didn’t run over catchers (they all slid).

    • Jonny 5 - Aug 8, 2013 at 8:11 AM

      I hope you didn’t buy a new washer and dyer recently PL. Because you just won a BRAND NEW PAIR! Ding ding dind ding!!!! We have a winnah!

      • paperlions - Aug 8, 2013 at 9:04 AM

        SaaaaaaWEET!

  25. greymares - Aug 8, 2013 at 8:45 AM

    MEMO TO CRAIG : It’s clear to me that Mathew Pouliot should be investigated for drug use. (not biogenesis, because he certainly not doing anything performance enhancing) but he is clearly not thinking normal when he writes an article that states that a runner in a full speed romp for home in attempt to be the lead run in the game has decided that “I just got my money, maybe i shouldn’t deprive the catcher of getting his, but wait jf i knock him over and he becomes injured, I will be the bad guy. let me see should I slide, but that’s not much plate?should I knock him over and risk him getting a large pay day? What to do ? what to do ?” obviously this was written with a bias against Utley or with complete stupidity.

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