Manuel Defends Sandberg’s Third Base Coaching
PHILADELPHIA—It wasn’t close. By the time Delmon Young drew within arm’s (or leg’s) reach of the plate, Nationals center fielder Denard Span’s throw had cracked catcher Kurt Suzuki’s glove with ample time to spare.
Third out logged. Ffith inning over. Two men stranded.
It was an aggressive ploy, but adherent to the Baseball Third Base Coaching 101 with two outs in a tie game. The runner gets sent, forcing the defense to make a play if they want to preserve the deadlock.
But these weren’t generic circumstances.
Wind-milling his arm at third base was Ryne Sandberg, the man many presume to be Charlie Manuel’s successor. Running the base paths was Young, who over the winter had microfracture ankle surgery and had a weight-loss clause installed in his contract.
With Cliff Lee hitting to create the play in question, the top of the Phillie order was due up.
Then there was the part about the field having taken on enough rain for an hour and eight minute delay before the game.
Fans took issue with the decision, and a few made there recently.
The manager didn’t, and hasn’t.
“From what I’ve seen of Ryne, guys he’s sent so far, I’d have sent every one of ‘em,” Manuel said.
Manuel would concede that third base coaches must gauge such situations. But he assigned most of the responsibility to the runner. With two outs, Manuel said, base runners need to be alert, taking cozy leads and being prepared to run on contact.
In other words, the opposite of what Young did on the play.
“Players nowadays do that, and it ticks me off,” Manuel said.” Really. It does. Did you see it? They do it all the time. Then they can’t go. You’ve got to hold them up at third. I call that the scenic route.
Only, Sandberg didn’t hold Young up at third. Not even with Young’s limits.
“Delmon Young’s got a bad ankle. Everybody knows that,” Manuel said. “But at the same time, on that play there, I like him sending him. I’m fine with that.”
“I’d say most of it’s on the runner,” he said. “But at the same time, when Ryne knows the situation, he can see and judge and yeah, I want him to send him.
“I haven’t seen him send a guy when the play shouldn’t have been.”