PHILADELPHIA – The Cubs watched their valuable, popular backup catcher get carted off the field after a jarring collision at the plate with the Phillies’ Chase Utley Wednesday night.
“I thought the worst,” manager Dale Sveum said.
But for as long as Dioner Navarro lay on the ground in pain and as hard as Utley hit him, nobody in the Cubs’ clubhouse called it anything but an unfortunate – and clean – play.
“For me that’s baseball,” said Cubs starter Travis Wood. “I like contact. It was a tie ballgame at the time and he’s trying to put his team ahead. I’ve got no problem with that. He didn’t go out of his way to hit him or anything.”
Navarro positioned his substantial girth in Utley’s path as right-fielder Cole Gillespie delivered his throw, and both runner and ball arrived at the same time.
Utley seemed caught between slide and crash mode in his final two steps, then lowered his shoulder and plowed into Navarro – who held the ball for the out even as he got pushed back over his right leg.
X-rays were negative, and the Cubs say Navarro is “day to day,” calling the injury a “contusion” for now.
“I haven’t seen the replay, but it’s just part of baseball,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “I don’t think anything was wrong with it. Guys have the right to block the plate. And [Utley’s play] is what you want your players to do, to do everything they can to get home plate. Obviously you don’t want to hurt somebody in the process, but unfortunately we’ve seen it.
“It’s probably the same kind of thing how [San Francisco catcher Buster] Posey hurt his ankle [severely in a 2011 collision]. It’s a tough business, catching, but that’s part of it.”
If anything, Sveum was impressed with Navarro’s ability to hold the ball for the out.
“A lot of catchers don’t have the guts to do that sometimes.”