Maddon’s unusual move draws praise
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Rays Manager Joe Maddon, the former Angels bench coach, made history Sunday night when, with a four-run lead and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning, he intentionally walked Texas slugger Josh Hamilton to force in a run.
According to the Society for American Baseball Research, it was only the fifth known time since 1900 that a player was intentionally walked with the bases loaded, the last being Barry Bonds on May 28, 1998. In each case, the team issuing the walk won the game.
“He wasn’t going to let Hamilton beat him,” Angels left fielder Garret Anderson said. “Even if it didn’t work out, you don’t let the big man beat you.”
Center fielder Torii Hunter also liked the move. “I’d rather give up one run than four,” Hunter said. “I’d walk him and take my chances.”
Maddon replaced reliever Grant Balfour with Dan Wheeler, who struck out Marlon Byrd to end Tampa Bay’s 7-4 victory.
“The decision didn’t seem that complicated at the time,” Maddon said. “Balfour is a fastball pitcher, and Hamilton is a dead fastball hitter. I thought it was simple.”
Nailed the dismount
Joe Saunders reported “no tightness” in his left shoulder after Sunday’s freak collision with second baseman Howie Kendrick, when the pitcher, in pursuit of a chopper over the mound, sprawled face-first into the infield grass and was kicked in the shoulder. After seeing a replay of his “dive,” he couldn’t argue with the low score from the Russian judge. “It looked bad,” Saunders said. “I got a 1.0 on the landing.”
Rays closer Troy Percival opted to forgo surgery on the damaged cartilage in his right knee.
“The prognosis was basically that if I get it done it was going to be October [before I recovered], and without it, it was very feasible that I’d be back in two weeks,” Percival said. “I’ve just got to deal with the pain and go.”
On the mend
Reggie Willits, on the disabled list because of a pair of mild concussions, is expected to begin a short rehabilitation stint with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga on Wednesday or Thursday.