Sunday, March 9, 2008

Where's the beef? Yankees and Rays opinions differ on play

During the ninth inning of yesterday's 4-1 victory against the Yankees, Rays minor league 2B Elliott Johnson was involved in a home plate collision with Yankees top catching prospect Francisco Cervelli. Cervelli suffered a broken wrist and will be out up to two months. Yankees Manager Joe Girardi took offensive to the play calling it "uncalled" for as well as this swipe at Rays Skipper Joe Maddon:

"I don't understand it,'' Girardi said. "I've always known that you don't do it. I know kids are playing aggressive and they're playing hard - that's how you want them to play - but maybe if it happens too much you should mention something.''

Joe Maddon, however sees it another way

"I never read that rule before," Maddon responded Saturday night. "We try to play the game the same way on March 8 as we do on June 8. We don't differentiate between a spring training game and a regular-season game. We play it hard and we play it right every day.

Maddon called it "a good, aggressive play" and said: "I loved the hard ball right there. We're playing it hard, we're playing it right."

Of course there are going to be different opinions on both sides. Girardi sees it as a cheap shot, while Maddon sees a guy going all out to make the team. Elliott Johnson isn't guaranteed of a regular season. These games are his only chances to prove to Joe Maddon and the rest of the Rays staff that he belongs on the club before they ship him back to Durham, NC. I never like to see someone seriously injured in Spring, but if Cervelli is going to block the plate in the ninth inning, the Yankees shouldn't expect Johnson to stand up and just take a tag. It is a split-second decision and Johnson had to do what was best for his team to win the game. Johnson told the St. Petersburg Times:

"I'm trying to show these guys what I can do. I'm just trying to score the run. That's my job. And looking back at it I'd have to say I'd probably do the same thing.''

Cervelli, was not upset, saying it was all :

"part of the game," "Maybe (Johnson) wants to make the team."

The Rays face the Yankees on Wednesday as well as almost 20 times in the regular season. This could get interesting.