July 25, 2019

Red Sox Protest Umpire's Handling Of Rays' Late-Inning Substitutions

In the top of the eighth inning yesterday, after Tampa Bay reliever Adam Kolarek retired Sam Travis on a pop-up, Rays manager Kevin Cash made a pitching change, bringing in right-hander Chaz Roe. Simple enough, right?

Except Cash moved Kolarek (a lefty) to first so he could stay in the game and face lefty Rafael Devers. Roe pitched to Mookie Betts and Betts flied out to left. Kolarek came back to the mound and Nate Lowe went in to play first base. Devers grounded out to first, ending the inning.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora came out to confer with the umpires four times. The game was delayed 21 minutes and Boston ended up playing the rest of the game under protest. (Note: The Red Sox declined to file an official, written protest, according to an industry source.)
They brought in the lefty for Charlie [Morton] and then they brought in Roe for Choi. They kept the DH at that moment. So they had a pitcher, a first baseman, they had a pitcher on the mound and they still had a DH. It's kind of hard to explain. ... We felt that they made some illegal substitutions. It was a mess at one point. I wasn't able to keep up with Angel. We protested the game.

The Daily News had an amusing headline: "The Mind-Melting Substitutions In Red Sox-Rays Drove Alex Cora Insane".

Angel Hernandez, the umpiring crew chief, issued a statement after the game:
The dispute on the field was about what the batting order was following the pitcher going to a defensive position. So (Rule 5:11), "if a game's pitcher is switched from the mound to a defensive position, this move shall terminate the designated role for the remainder of the game. The pitcher just removed from the mound may bat in the designated hitter's spot in the batting order or, if more than one defensive change is made, the pitcher may bat in place of any of the substituted players. The manager shall designate the place in the batting order to the umpire."
Hernandez said Cora was upset that Cash didn't inform the umpiring crew where Kolarek would hit in the lineup when he moved him to first base and summoned Roe from the bullpen.
He wanted to know what was going on, so we told him it didn't alter the outcome of anything that had happened so far. What we did (Rule 5:10.b) "in case the manager fails or refuses to make a decision, the plate umpire is authorized to decide the necessary batting order. The umpire's decision is final." That's what we were trying to tell (Cora). But he wanted to protest.
(Hernandez appears to be quoting the exact wording of Rules 5:10.b and 5:11, but he is actually paraphrasing them.)

Chad Jennings of The Athletic reported that Cora's frustration was with Hernandez, who according to the rules, should have designated the batting order himself, if Cash had failed to, and then explained the new batting order to Cora.

In other words, Cash did nothing wrong. The problem arose because Angel Hernandez did not do his job properly or in a timely manner, a fact at which no one should be surprised. (Because Angel Hernandez is one of the worst (if not the worst) umpires working in the major leagues.)
According to the Red Sox, during that single at-bat between Roe and Betts, the Rays technically had two active pitchers in the game. They claim Hernandez did not officially put Kolarek into the Rays lineup. He was clearly still in the game – Kolarek was standing right there at first base – but he had not been officially added to the lineup in place of a position player, which means he should have been out of the game. And if he was out of the game, how could he come back to face Devers? And if he was in the lineup, why didn't the Red Sox know immediately that he had been moved into the No. 3 hole replacing Austin Meadows at DH (Roe officially had taken Ji-Man Choi's place in the No. 9 spot in the order).

"They brought in Roe for Choi," Cora said. "They kept the DH at that moment. So, they had a pitcher, a first baseman, they had a pitcher on the mound, and they still had a DH. It's kind of hard to explain. I'm sorry I can't go over it because there's a lot. It's an illegal substitution ... We saw what was going to happen. When he put (Kolarek at) first, I asked Angel about it and he gave me an answer. I'm like, 'OK, this is about to get interesting.' And it did." ...

Where the Red Sox might have an argument is with the Rays pitching. If Kolarek was not put into the lineup when he went to play first base, why was he allowed to stay in the game and thus available to get Devers out – in a left-on-left matchup – with one pitch? ...

It's largely a clerical, record-keeping argument. Of course Kolarek was in the game, everyone could see him. The rules clearly allow the Rays to put a pitcher at first base and then back on the mound, and the lineup was ultimately changed in a proper way. The question is whether those moves were handled correctly.

Hernandez told a pool reporter that Cash did not specify, when Roe came into the game, where Kolarek would hit in the order, which could explain why he was not immediately placed anywhere in the Rays lineup. With no instruction from the manager, the rules state that Hernandez was allowed to put Kolarek wherever he saw fit (he put him in the DH spot, batting third, the first spot due up in the bottom of the inning). The Red Sox say they should have known that right away for the move to be legal. Cora specifically said the substitution was illegal because of "the way it was presented to us."
Nothing changed in the box score until Roe relieved Kolarek. Kolarek took the field and was properly put in the spot occupied by the DH (#3) and Roe went in the #8 spot, in place of the first baseman. That's a normal double-switch, except the departing pitcher is also the incoming fielder. When Kolarek went back to the mound, he obviously stayed in his batting spot and Lowe, the new first baseman, was put in the #8 position, replacing Roe.

An inning earlier, when Kolarek was warming up in the bullpen, he was told he might be moved to first base for a batter.
I love doing it. It's an exciting way to attack with our bullpen. We're very versatile down there. ... I don't need to change gloves [at first base]. I use the pitcher mitt I have. I definitely have one of the bigger pitching gloves on the whole staff.

1 comment:

Jake of All Trades said...

I like to think Cash & Cora conspired on this to add one more piece of evidence to MLB’s “reasons for your termination” dossier on Angel — that unfortunately they probably can’t use until the lawsuit is settled.

“Let’s see if he can figure out 5:10b & 5:11”

“He doesn’t know the strike zone. No way he gets that right...”