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Yanks-Rays: Not A Quiet Spring
Posted by Gus Papadopoulos at 3/9/2008 10:36:00 AM
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Don't know if you've heard the latest from the Grapefruit League, but there was a play at the plate in the ninth inning of Saturday's Yankees-Rays game. There was a collision between Rays baserunner Elliott Johnson and Yanks minor-league catcher Francisco Cervelli; Johnson scored and Cervelli suffered a broken wrist on the play.  This incident did not get a whole lot of play in the Tampa Bay press, other than the unfortunate nature of Cervelli's injury. However, the New York tabloid press, in their typically reserved manner, had lots of fun with it:

http://blogs.tampabay.com/rays/2008/03/zimmer-dumbfoun.html

http://www.tboblogs.com/index.php/sports/comments/zim-maddon-surprised-at-girardis-stance1/

Even though Cervelli, the injured party, felt it was a clean play (calling it "part of the game"), Yankees manager Joe Girardi went a bit ... no, _quite_ a bit over the top, arguing that running into the catcher was against spring training protocol: "I don't understand it ... I've always known that you don't do it." Upon being relayed Girardi's comments, Rays manager Joe Maddon said he had "never read that rule before ... it was a good hard baseball play. We have to play the game one way all the time. That's the way we do things." Girardi didn't back down from his stance on Sunday morning, saying that on a play like that "there is no memo needed." Girardi also brought up a collision from Wednesday's Rays-Astros game, where Carl Crawford ran into Houston's Humberto Quintero, as "evidence" the Rays are unnecessarily reckless in spring games. (However, Quintero had no problems with that play in post-game comments, and Crawford said he ran into the much larger Quintero only because a bat had been left in the box, limiting his sliding options.)

My take on this? If Joe Girardi really means what he said here, then Girardi's a wuss, plain and simple. Pitchers throw inside in spring games; teams try to pick runners off in spring games; runners try to score in spring games, including trying to go through the catcher (a play that usually isn't the smartest move for the baserunner, BTW, whether the game takes place in March or October). It could be Girardi is trying to build a fire in the Yankee clubhouse, and if so, he's entitled to do so. However, if Girardi is already whining about other teams actually trying to beat the Yankees on March 9, then it's gonna be a long summer in the Bronx for everyone except the tabloid guys, who are going to get lots of ink out of Girardi this year.



Comments....

Don't want your catcher run into on plays at the plate? Don't have him block the plate in a meaningless spring training game. I've never really understood how we've evolved into that anyhow - blocking the plate is supposed to be illegal anyhow. But somehow that's turned into a play that every team teaches, and so every year we have a handful of unnecessary injuries.
Posted by Erickson at 3/9/2008 11:48:00 AM
 
I think this is just something Girardi is using to fire up his players, like you said. The DRays aren't the same as the ones 5-6 years ago, I think Girardi realizes they are going to be someone to contend with, and (even though I'm a Yanks fan) he realizes that they didn't do that much in the offseason to overtake the Red Sox. He's got to do everything in his power to win the division this year, but time will tell.
Posted by kevinccp at 3/9/2008 3:23:00 PM
 
Crawford ran over a catcher on a play at the plate a couple of days before this incident and it supposedly fired up the Rays' whole team. Good for the Rays. What's the point of spring training if you aren't going to play all out?
Posted by MPStopa at 3/9/2008 8:14:00 PM
 

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