D-backs unwilling to let Utley slide

AS SOON AS Chase Utley slid, Phillies third-base coach Steve Smith knew there might be repercussions.

Utley was running from second to third with one out in the seventh inning Tuesday night. Diamondbacks third baseman Alberto Callaspo fielded a ground ball, stepped on third to force out Utley, then threw to first base for the doubleplay.

Utley did not hit Callaspo - but then, Callaspo was well up the line. That Utley came as close to Callaspo as he did riled several D-backs, as Smith expected.

"Too far," he said to Utley as Utley rose from the slide.

"It was?" Utley replied.

It was.

As often is the case in baseball, Utley, an especially hard-nosed sort, was involved in a similar play earlier in the game that left shortstop Stephen Drew too hurt to play last night.

Utley slid hard to try to break up a doubleplay in the fifth. Drew was playing behind second base, shifted against Ryan Howard's pull tendency. The throw to Drew was slow and his pivot was awkward and Utley connected, left shin on shin, twisting Drew's ankle. Both remained in the game.

"He slid really, really late, but that wasn't dirty," Drew said. "Going after [Callaspo] - that was uncalled for."

D-backs manager Bob Melvin was more diplomatic, but he generally echoed Drew's assertion.

"[Utley] handled it the way he thought he should handle it," Melvin said.

But was it dirty?

"It depends on the intent," Melvin said. "I thought he was in the baseline at second. I thought he was out of the baseline at third."

Chase?

"There was no intent to hurt anybody," Utley said.

Nevertheless, the D-backs delighted when Scott Hairston took out Utley at second, hard, in the ninth inning. Hairston had no idea why he was applauded so heartily when he returned to the dugout.

"From the fifth inning on, I was in the batting cage," said Hairston, a reserve who entered in the eighth inning. He said that he works out with Utley in Arizona for part of the offseason.

Callaspo seemed to have less problem with it than anyone. He knows that Utley could have laid him out late; Smith noted that, while Utley slid wide, he opted to not clip Callaspo with his foot.

"That's just part of the game," Callaspo said. "He's trying to play hard."

Utley claimed he didn't realize the D-backs were upset with his slide at third. He also said he hadn't seen a replay, but allowed that, when he did take a peek, if he considered the play egregiously unsportsmanlike he might give Callaspo a call or a word of apology.

"He doesn't need to call me," Callaspo said.

Indeed, all parties appear to know that Utley made an ill-advised move without malicious intent - even though last night, in an apparent attempt at payback, fellow Phillies tough guy Aaron Rowand got a fastball in the hip from Brandon Lyon on an 0-2 pitch to start the ninth.

"Chase knows he made a mistake," Smith said. "I don't want them thinking Chase is a dirty player. He's a gamer. He's not cheap."

And if the D-backs have a problem, Smith said:

"Tell Melvin I'll send him flowers."

 

No Ryno

Ryan Howard was 6-for-45 against lefthanders this season. He had never faced future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson. He had started all five games since coming off the 15-day disabled list Friday.

Ryan Howard was 6-for-45 against lefthanders this season. He had never faced future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson. He had started all five games since coming off the 15-day disabled list Friday.

So, he didn't start last night.

It had nothing to do, said manager Charlie Manuel, with Howard leaving Tuesday's game with cramping in his left hamstring - the same leg that sent him to the DL with a left thigh strain.

"The leg is fine," Howard said.

Righthanded hitter Wes Helms started at first in Howard's place.

Howard pinch-hit in the ninth inning and lined into the game-ending doubleplay.

 

Phillers

Pat Burrell started in leftfield despite being 1-for-23 in his last eight starts and 3-for-17 with 11 strikeouts against Johnson. Why? In part, because likely replacement Jayson Werth was 1-for-6 with 4 Ks against Johnson. Burrell singled in the second off Johnson and rapped an RBI single up the middle off closer Jose Valverde . . . D-backs third baseman Mark Reynolds left Tuesday's game with a neck bruise after colliding with reliever Brandon Medders in the seventh inning. Reynolds, a rookie hitting .420, asked to start last night and manager Bob Melvin obliged . . . Righthander Jon Lieber was excused from the team before last night's game to go to his home in Alabama to attend the scheduled birth of his fourth child. *

Pat Burrell started in leftfield despite being 1-for-23 in his last eight starts and 3-for-17 with 11 strikeouts against Johnson. Why? In part, because likely replacement Jayson Werth was 1-for-6 with 4 Ks against Johnson. Burrell singled in the second off Johnson and rapped an RBI single up the middle off closer Jose Valverde . . . D-backs third baseman Mark Reynolds left Tuesday's game with a neck bruise after colliding with reliever Brandon Medders in the seventh inning. Reynolds, a rookie hitting .420, asked to start last night and manager Bob Melvin obliged . . . Righthander Jon Lieber was excused from the team before last night's game to go to his home in Alabama to attend the scheduled birth of his fourth child. *