August 25th, 2014

While Rays protest challenge, Tigers are watching

While the Tampa Bay Rays await word from Major League Baseball on their protest of a late replay challenge Saturday from Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, the Tigers are expected to be interested observers. Manager Brad Ausmus, in particular, will be curious to see how this is ruled.

On Sunday morning, he hadn’t seen the play in question, when Gibbons came out to challenge a pickoff call after his pitcher, Mark Buehrle, was back on the rubber and Yunel Escobar was in the batters box. But Ausmus was aware of it.

“I read the story, which when it happened with us in Anaheim, it was the exact same thing really,” Ausmus said.

That, too, was a pickoff play — with Matt Shoemaker trying to pick off Eugenio Suarez at first. Suarez was initially ruled safe, Shoemaker returned to the mound, Mike Scioscia emerged from the dugout to challenge, and Ausmus was out of his dugout as soon as Scioscia came out.

“I was watching the batters and the pitcher, and I understand what Brad was thinking,” crew chief Jim Joyce said at the time. “But to tell me I can’t do it is not what the rule is. So I just informed him that it’s at my discretion. It’s at the crew chief’s discretion.

“I just knew it was really, really a close play. And if he’s going to come out and ask me to review it, I’m going to review it. The whole entire deal is to get it right. So I kept informing him that, at my discretion, that I can review it. I tried to impress that upon, and we got to where we were.”

Ausmus argued unsuccessfully to try to stop the review. He came back out as soon as Suarez was ruled out on review, which got Ausmus ejected.

So why didn’t Ausmus protest like Maddon did?

“I wanted to protest,” Ausmus said Sunday, “and the umpire [Joyce] told me I couldn’t protest, that it was not something that could be protested.”

Ausmus said he has not been given an official clarification on the rule since. MLB executive vice president of on-field operations Joe Torre was in Cooperstown at the time of the incident for Hall of Fame weekend.

“I never actually talked to Joe about the rule,” said Ausmus. “I wasn’t given anything official in terms of whether I was right or wrong. I know there was a lot of discussion in New York about it, though.”

Given the Rays challenge, there’s probably more discussion going on in New York.