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After reflecting, Manuel OK with Utley's slide

After reflecting, Manuel OK with Utley's slide

PHILADELPHIA -- A day later, Jerry Manuel was no longer upset at Chase Utley's slide. He was envious.

"There is nothing wrong with a good, hard slide to break up a double play," Manuel said Saturday afternoon. "We preach that."

Those comments came merely hours after the Mets manager joined David Wright, Jose Reyes and R.A. Dickey in condemning Utley, who slid hard into Ruben Tejada in an attempt to break up a double play in the fifth inning Friday. Reyes called the play "a little dirty." Wright said that the Mets will "have to reevaluate the way we go into second base."

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And Manuel didn't dispute the claims of either of his star players, saying that Utley's slide was indeed late and that his players should, if given the chance, reciprocate. He just didn't have any issue with Utley's slide itself.

"I think it was a hard slide," Manuel said. "It looked like a tad bit late. But when you sleep on it, you think about it, you say, 'Hey, that's how we play.' That's the way we play the game, and you just don't see it anymore.

"I'm glad for us, because that's a style that needs to get back into the game of baseball."

Utley, for his part, also defended his action.

"I have never ever attempted to break up a double play with the intent to injure someone," the Phillies second baseman said. "I understand what it's like to be taken out. I've been kicked, kneed, elbowed, spiked and even flipped upside down. And as much as I might not have liked it at the time, I understand that it's all part of being a Major League second baseman. Second basemen have had to deal with this for over 100 years. And with that said, we as a team play the game hard and play it to win. That is not going to change."

The Mets chose not to throw at Utley in his final at-bat Friday, and Manuel said that he would prefer for his players to avenge Utley's slide in kind -- by sliding hard into second base themselves. In discussing it, Manuel hinted that it would be up to his most prominent veterans -- Wright, Reyes and Carlos Beltran -- to take action.

"If anything needs to get taken care of, those are the guys who will handle it," Manuel said.

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