Dodgers Team News

Former Dodger Chase Utley Reveals How He Tried to Teach Yasiel Puig a Lesson

On Sept. 12, 2018, the Dodgers were playing the Reds in Cincinnati. The Dodgers were leading 8-1 in the seventh inning when Yasiel Puig drew a walk against Reds pitcher Matt Wisler. During the next at-bat, Puig successfully stole second base. One can only wonder what the on-deck hitter, pinch hitter Chase Utley, was thinking.

This was not the infamous game in which Utley asked the opposing pitcher to hit him with a pitch. We know as much, because Peter Gammons originally relayed that anecdote — now canon in the legend of Utley’s hard-nosed reputation — more than a year earlier, in Feb. 2017. Seven years later, the date of the game remains unidentified (more on that in a bit).

Yet we know it happened. Why? For the first time, Utley has publicly confirmed it himself.

In an interview with The Phillies Show (whose hosts include Ruben Amaro Jr., the general manager who traded Utley from Philadelphia to Los Angeles in Aug. 2015), Utley spilled the beans. The unidentified “younger, enthusiastic teammate” Gammons described was Puig.

“Puig was on my list to like, help him, because you’ve seen him play — he’s a tremendous talent,” Utley said. “He can do pretty much anything you can ask him to do on a baseball field, but the mental side wasn’t always consistent. And listen, it’s hard to put myself in his shoes, growing up in Cuba, defecting, going to Mexico, being smuggled in. Like, I can’t even imagine what that was like. Instant success when he got to the major leagues which in turn, there was monetary gains in that.

“Great player, but he wasn’t always there on an everyday basis. Some days he was engaged. Some days he just wasn’t.”

Utley went on to confirm the details of the play: the Dodgers were playing Milwaukee, they held a big lead late in the game, Puig tried to steal third (not second base, as Gammons originally reported).

“And Craig Counsell’s pissed,” Utley said. “The bench coach is pissed. Dave Roberts is going ‘ohmigod I can’t believe he did that.’ ”

The reason the game is difficult to identify is simple. Forget the score — Puig never stole a base, or was caught stealing a base, in a game against the Brewers in which Utley also played for the Dodgers before 2017. The key detail is actually one that Utley leaves out: whether Puig was successful or unsuccessful in his stolen-base attempt.

The answer, we think, is neither.

On June 30, 2016, the Dodgers were leading 8-1 in Milwaukee when Puig led off the seventh inning with a double. Brewers pitcher Jhan Mariñez struck out Trayce Thompson and Yasmani Grandal, bringing Scott Van Slyke to the plate with two outs, and putting Utley in the on-deck circle.

Mariñez got ahead of Van Slyke 1-and-2. On the fifth pitch of the at-bat, Van Slyke swung and missed. The Baseball Reference play-by-play account of the game notes that the runner (Puig) was going on the pitch. Because Van Slyke struck out, the inning would technically have been over by the time Puig got to third.

Utley led off the top of the eighth inning. Blaine Boyer was pitching. Martin Maldonado was catching.

“I thought, this is a great opportunity because Yasiel is a sensitive guy,” Utley said. “He might not look like it, but he is a very sensitive guy. I felt like if he, or someone were to be hurt or like uncomfortable because of actions that he did, he might take it to heart a little bit more. I looked at it as a perfect opportunity to try to teach him a lesson. So anyways, I went to home plate. … I think it was the next inning, I go to the catcher — I don’t remember who it was — and I said, ‘hey would you mind walking out to your pitcher and asking him to hit me?’

“He looks at me like, excuse me? I don’t understand. ‘Listen, I’m not going to explain now. Just bean me, no big deal, I’ll take my base.”

Long story short, Utley didn’t get his wish. Boyer (whose fastball was averaging 92.6 mph in 2016) struck him out on four pitches.

“I didn’t tell anybody that story,” Utley said. “The catcher must have told that story. Or maybe the umpire.“

It’s a funny story with a sobering ending: the lesson was never imparted. Two years later in Cincinnati, Puig stole second base in the seventh inning with the Dodgers holding a seven-run lead.

Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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JP Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra writes and edits Major League Baseball content for and is the author of 'The 50 Greatest Dodger Games Of All Time.' He once recorded a keyboard solo on the same album as two of the original Doors. Follow at

One Comment

  1. I love that guy lol Let’s get em back. I don’t care if he hits a buck fifty ( wait, that’s better than all our 7-8-9- guys & half the bench.
    That’s what we’re missing from our 2017 championship ? season – Utley n Puig.

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