Last night, Joe Maddon wanted Cesar Ramos to start the 8th inning for the Rays, but he wasn’t ready. To buy a little extra time, Maddon sent Sam Fuld out to the mound to warm up. But before he could face a batter, Maddon came to the mound and replaced him with Ramos.
Was it genius? Was it gamesmanship? Or was it simply illegal?
After the game, Maddon explained that he “had no other choice,” and blamed the mix-up on the dugout phones. Apparently Maddon wanted Ramos, but instead Joel Peralta was told to warm up. “The phones are really not loud here so we’re trying to communicate, “No, no, no we’re trying to do the other thing,” said Maddon.
But interestingly, that was not what the umpires were told.
Crew chief Jerry Layne told a different story. “Fuld went out there, and from what I understand, [home-plate umpire Bob Davidson] was told that he was sore or couldn’t pitch or something,” Layne said.
But after the game, Maddon said there was “no chance” Fuld was going to pitch to a batter, and Marc Topkin called the move a “stall tactic” something Maddon confirmed by saying “Sam provided that.”
According to MLB rules, a player replacing a pitcher must face at least one batter. At the time, we assumed the move was acceptable because Fuld had already been used in the game as a pinch-hitter and thus had already technically participated in the game. At this point, he was no longer a substitute.
But the umpires saw it differently. “He’s supposed to pitch to a batter unless he’s incapacitated, but we’re not doctors,” said Layne. “It’s a situation where, if they do something like that, they’re circumventing the rules, but as an umpire, there’s nothing we can do about it…he’s hurt, or whatever — we’re not doctors. Can you imagine if we had a guy who stayed out there because we said, ‘No, you have to pitch to one batter,’ and then he throws out a rotator cuff?”
And yet, according Maddon’s own post-game comments, he never says anything about Fuld being hurt. In other words, Maddon is openly admitting that he broke the rules, and he (or somebody on the Rays staff) lied to the umpires.
Genius, gamesmanship, or illegal.
It appears it was a little of all three.