Inside baseball - Major league managers endure tumultuous week - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Inside baseball - Major league managers endure tumultuous week

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Posted: Sunday, June 19, 2005 6:35 am | Updated: 9:37 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

After more adventures in managing last week, Jack McKeon is safe in Florida despite criticism from some players but Lou Piniella seems a lot less so in Tampa Bay after ripping management for being miserly.

And George Brett’s pine tar rant still may be the most famous . . . but just barely.

You remember Brett, who came screaming out of the Kansas City dugout on July 24, 1983, when umpires disallowed his home run in Yankee Stadium because pine tar on his bat was an inch too close to the handle, costing the Royals a game.

The Royals protested, the umps were overruled, and the game was picked up from the point after Brett’s homer, with Kansas City getting a victory.

The latest pine tar incident resulted in a 10-game suspension for Anaheim pitcher Brendan Donnelly and one-game suspensions for managers Frank Robinson and Mike Scioscia after a bench-clearing incident Tuesday.

Things started when Robinson asked umpires to check Donnelly’s glove for an illegal substance after Donnelly entered the game but before he threw a pitch. Umps found pine tar, and Donnelly was properly ejected.

Scioscia went to the mound and called in reliever Scot Shields, but on his way back to the Angels’ dugout did a U-turn and confronted Robinson, standing near the first-base line.

"He told me that he was going to have every one of my pitchers undressed when they came out there to the mound, no matter who it was. I took it as a threat," Robinson said.

"I lost a lot of respect for Mike tonight, as a person and as a manager. I don’t even want him trying to apologize to me, if he even thought about it. I would not accept it.’’

Scioscia did not believe he crossed the line.

"I’m not apologizing. There was nothing personal about it," he said.

Former Angel and current National Jose Guillen was widely believed to be the tipster, especially given his messy parting from Anaheim last season, when he was suspended for the rest of the season in September for throwing a batting helmet in the direction of Scioscia after being replaced by a pinch-runner.

Robinson said he picked up something on tape, not from Guillen. Regardless, Guillen certainly relished beating his former team, his two-run homer off Shields tying the score. Washington eventually won, 6-3.

Earlier, as the benches cleared, Guillen was restrained by three coaches from going on the field after Scioscia and Angels hitting coach Mickey Hatcher.

"Mike Scioscia, to me, is like a piece of garbage. I don’t care if I get in trouble. He can go to hell,’’ Guillen said. "I can never get over what happened last year. It’s something I’m never going to forget. Every time I play that team and Mike Scioscia, it’s always going to be personal."

Robinson also accused Donnelly of having sandpaper on the mound, a charge Donnelly called "a (expletive) lie.’’ Umpires did not get that far in their search, and Robinson said Donnelly passed it to second baseman Adam Kennedy before the inspection.

"Are you kidding me? That’s absolutely ridiculous,’’ Scioscia said.

If baseball continues its normal interleague rotation, the teams will next meet in 2008, when Robinson will be 72.

PINIELLA’S POINT

Tampa Bay’s Piniella is operating with a $29 million payroll, the lowest in the major leagues for the fourth straight season, after being led to believe by owner Vince Naimoli that the payroll would be in the $40 million to $45 million range by now, his third season with the team since being lured away from Seattle.

"When other teams are getting better presently, and we’re not, you’re going to get your butts beat, and that’s exactly what’s happening,’’ Piniella said.

"I’m not going to take responsibility for this. If I had been given a $40 million or $45 million payroll, and we were getting beat like that, I’d stand up like a man and say it’s my fault. I’m not going to do it.’’

Players sided with Piniella.

"Somebody’s got to say something. It can’t continue to be like this every year,’’ Aubrey Huff said. "We’re just not making any strides to get better. Every year it’s the same song and dance. Nobody knows why. Something’s got to be done.’’

CLOSING THE DEAL

Seattle closer Eddie Guardado has not blown a save opportunity since April 9 and has converted 17 straight.

He has not allowed a run since May 4 and has given up only one hit in his last 10 appearances, retiring 21 hitters in a row at one point.

"All the good ones, they’ve got that edge," Guardado said of closing. "You can’t put a finger on it. It’s not like they don’t give a damn; they do. But when they take it out there, it’s like, ‘Here it is. Hit it. See what happens.’

"If you go out there thinking, ‘Man, I’ve got to hit this spot,’ you’re in trouble. I think that’s a big part of being a closer — attitude. It’s all about heart."

And pain tolerance, perhaps. Guardado is pitching this season with a torn rotator cuff.

"It’s not partially torn; it’s fully torn," Seattle trainer Rick Griffin said. "If you ask any physician or therapist who’s got anything to do with baseball from a medical aspect, the fact he’s even pitching in games is phenomenal."

KICK ME HARD

Houston’s Craig Biggio has been hit by 263 pitches in his career, four short of Don Baylor’s major league record.

"It’s the purple heart of baseball. You get hit that many times, that’s paying your price right there,’’ Biggio said.

"They’re all justifiable as long as you score. If you don’t score, they hurt more. You feel a heck of a lot better when you touch home, compared to the times that you don’t."

Biggio has scored 92 times, about 35 percent.

Biggio wears protective equipment, an attitude that has evolved after he was hit squarely in the elbow by Danny Darwin more than a decade ago.

He considered an elbow pad but opted against it, remembering thinking "what are the odds of me getting hit again?" After being hit in the elbow again, he went with the pad. He said four pitches have hit him above the neck.

"Pain is part of the deal, part of the game, part of the sport. You deal with it and move on," Biggio said.

OVERHEARD

• "Borderline ridiculous. There is no reason for us to be this cold again for this long.’’ — San Diego manager Bruce Bochy, whose team is averaging 2.4 runs in June

• "I don’t feel like I really enjoyed the previous years. At first, when I came up, it was, ‘what do I have to do to prove I belong?’ And after I established myself, it was the pressure of living up to that and being the man. Now, I’m on my own, I don’t feel like I have to prove myself anymore." — the Mets’ Pedro Martinez

• "Sometimes when you play the Yankees, they (umpires) are scared. That’s what happened." — Pittsburgh closer Jose Mesa, after umpires missed the call at first base on what would have been a game-ending double play for a Pirates victory Thursday

UNDERSTOOD

• Unless Jason Schmidt maintains the form he showed in a shutout Friday, the Giants are more likely to pay a $3.5 million buyout rather than pick up his $10.5 million option for 2006.

• David Wells received a $3.15 million signing bonus and a base salary of $2.5 million when he signed with the Red Sox, but he is about to make more — $200,000 apiece for starts 11-20 and $300,000 apiece for starts 21-30, a total of $5 million available.

• Derek Jeter, A-Rod and Randy Johnson are the only untouchables as the Yankees assess the trade market, according to those familiar with the situation, and "they’re talking about players who used to be off-limits,’’ one NL official said. Gary Sheffield and Jorge Posada do not have no-trade clauses.

WHO’S HOT

• Roger Clemens: Houston ace has not given up a run in five road starts covering 32 innings.

• Hee Seop Choi: Los Angeles first baseman hit seven home runs in four games, starting with six in a weekend against Minnesota last weekend.

• Aramis Ramirez: Cubs third baseman has 22 hits in his last 50 at-bats, a .440 batting average.

WHO’S NOT

• Al Leiter: Florida pitcher has not gone beyond the fifth inning in nine of his 12 starts and has given up three grand slams.

• Jason Kendall: Athletics catcher has the longest homerless streak among major league position players, 459 at-bats.

• Todd Helton: His home run Friday was his first since May 14.

  • Discuss

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