August 25th, 2011

Penny takes issue with Maddon’s comments

A day after Rays manager Joe Maddon said he would’ve had no problem with Sean Rodriguez charging the mound on Brad Penny Tuesday, Penny said Maddon had the wrong idea what happened during his exchange with Rodriguez in that game.

Maddon suggested Penny yelled at Rodriguez for hustling on a fly ball to left that led off the seventh inning.

“For anybody to bark at another player for … hustling is absolutely insane, ludicrous,” Maddon told reporters after Wednesday’s game, according to the St. Petersburg Times. “And if Sean had just charged the mound, I’d have been fine with that at that particular moment.”

Penny said Thursday morning that was totally false. His problem with Rodriguez, he said, was with his yelling in frustration while he rounded first base.

“He’s just screaming and cussing because he got out,” Penny said. “I guess he should’ve hit the ball out of the park like he does every at-bat.”

Rodriguez entered Thursday batting .213 with five home runs this season.

“He’s screaming [curse words],” Penny continued. “Well, what are you supposed to do, hit every ball out of the park? Come on. To me, that’s a sign of disrespect if you scream it that loud. I mean, you don’t have to go out of your way. All these kids can hear you. It’s not too loud in here. So to me, that’s not being professional.

“Why would I get on somebody for not hustling? That’s the stupidest thing I ever heard. I love when guys hustle. I may get on them for not hustling, maybe — not their guy, our guys. I have no problem with hustle.”

Rodriguez’s hustle, ironically, won the game Wednesday, beating out a throw to second base as the winning run scored.

As for Maddon’s suggestion of charging the mound, Penny had similar sentiments.

“For the manager to say I’m fine with him charging the mound, that’s stupid,” Penny said. “First of all, fine, charge the mound. I don’t care. I mean, they don’t build fences around the mound. But for him to say that over something he obviously has no knowledge of what happened, it’s amazing.”

Thursday: Tigers at Rays

Brennan Boesch is out of the lineup today, and judging by Jim Leyland’s remarks, he’s a little worse than day-to-day with the sprained right thumb.

“I don’t want to paint a bleak picture,” Leyland said Thursday morning, “but I don’t think it’s too good.”

With Boesch out and Miguel Cabrera on paternity leave, Leyland looked for ways to keep Alex Avila in the starting lineup. He debated using him at DH, but the team medical staff said Victor Martinez wasn’t ready for first base. He debated using Avila at first base, but worried about him getting injured on a freak play at a position he hasn’t played since college.

Eventually, Leyland decided to bite the bullet and give Avila a total day off.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Ramon Santiago, 2B
  3. Delmon Young, LF
  4. Victor Martinez, DH
  5. Wilson Betemit, 3B
  6. Don Kelly, 1B
  7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  8. Ryan Raburn, RF
  9. Omir Santos, C

P: Doug Fister

RAYS

  1. Desmond Jennings, CF
  2. Johnny Damon, DH
  3. Evan Longoria, 3B
  4. Ben Zobrist, 2B
  5. Casey Kotchman, 1B
  6. Matt Joyce, RF
  7. Sam Fuld, LF
  8. Sean Rodriguez, SS
  9. Kelly Shoppach, C

P: Jeremy Hellickson

Breaking down the fielder’s choice

To Brandon Inge, second base was the only option on Elliot Johnson’s ground ball, as you might have heard already.

“It’s very cut-and-dry: A ball hit to the left of you, you go to second base,” Inge said. “A ball hit dead at you, if you have the time, you go step on third, or go across the infield. But a ball to your left, you go to second base. That’s a fact.”

To manager Jim Leyland, Inge had other options.

“I thought there was an out probably at first, or probably at third,” Leyland said. “But that’s part of the game.”

To Ramon Santiago, he had to cover the bag.

“No doubt about it, I have to cover,” Santiago said. “Bases loaded and nobody covering, [Rodriguez] got a big lead off first. I got there as quickly as I can. It was close, but I think he was out.”

Somewhere in that mix, a potential inning-ending ground ball ended up being a walkoff fielder’s choice. Where that happened is up for debate.

Inge made a quick decision based on where he was positioned and what he saw. Whether he saw where Santiago was positioned when making his throw wasn’t clear. He threw it to the base, but Santiago was behind it and trying to catch up. I didn’t see a replay where Santiago was positioned and when he broke for the bag, but he said it was his immediate thought.

Sean Rodriguez, who beat Santiago to the bag, seemed to lean towards the covering the base part of the play.

“Inge got rid of it pretty good,” Rodriguez said, “but Santiago didn’t get there early enough, because the ball beat me there but he didn’t. His foot didn’t beat me there. … When I went to slide, I knew he wasn’t there yet.”

Regardless, it looks bad for everybody, of course. Inge and Santiago are the defensive options in the platoons at their respective positions. It doesn’t mean either of them are bad defenders, but it didn’t look like good execution. If it was, the game probably continues.

Boesch pulled with sore thumb

The Tigers already knew they were going to be without Miguel Cabrera on Thursday due to paternity leave. They’ll now have to get through the series finale against the Rays without Brennan Boesch, who left Wednesday’s game with soreness in his previously injured right thumb.

Boesch had played through the injury for a week and a half after injuring it on the last road trip, but it had been an increasing concern in recent days. After three strikeouts in as many at-bats Wednesday, manager Jim Leyland made the decision to replace him in right field with Don Kelly once Alex Avila’s home run tied the game.

“His thumb’s sore,” Leyland said after the game. “It’s been bothering him. He’s not going to play tomorrow.”

Boesch has been struggling statistically in recent days. Though he’s 6-for-24 since returning from the injury, he has eight strikeouts in his last 18 at-bats. He only has one extra-base hit since his return, a double last week.

His absence likely means Magglio Ordonez will get his second start of the series.

If the thumb injury lingers, it’s a concern for the Tigers heading into the stretch. They’ve found offensive production batting Boesch second between speedy Austin Jackson and recent acquisition Delmon Young.

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