June 5, 2004

Wendell Kim Redux? One of the worst moments of last night's 5-2 loss to the Royals came in the 6th inning -- when third base coach Dale Sveum waived Mark Bellhorn around third into a certain out.

At the time, the Boston bats were finally starting to stir. Fifteen consecutive Sox had been retired before Doug Mirabelli began the inning with a home run. After Pokey Reese popped out, Johnny Damon and Bellhorn both singled. David Ortiz then blasted a double over Matt Stairs's head in right that went to the wall. Damon danced off second, waiting to see if the ball was going to be caught. Bellhorn, with perhaps a better angle on the hit, was running hard right away. So when Damon rounded third, Bellhorn was right behind him. Damon scored, but Bellhorn was tagged out as he tried to scamper back to third.

Courant: "Sveum put up the stop sign for Damon before realizing Bellhorn was well on his way to third. 'Bell was right on his butt,' Sveum said. 'So I had to start Johnny back up. I didn't want two people stuck at third.' Sveum said he was so focused on Damon scoring that he forgot about Bellhorn, who kept running. He was halfway down the line when catcher Benito Santiago had the ball."

Herald: "As the pair neared third, Sveum waved in Damon, but Bellhorn, not looking at the ball, saw the wave and assumed it was for him. Wrong -- he got caught in a rundown between third and home. 'It was just a brain-fart -- I completely forgot about Bellhorn,' said Sveum. 'He did the right thing.'"

Globe: "With only one out and Manny Ramirez on deck ... Sveum initially signaled for the runners to hold at second and third. 'But then I saw Bell was right on Johnny's butt and we were going to have two people at third, so I started Damon up again,' Sveum said. 'My focus was strictly on Johnny just scoring. I was so caught up in making sure Johnny saw me starting him back up again after having my hands up to hold him that I brain-[cramped] and completely forgot about Bellhorn. ... I couldn't wave and stop somebody at the same time,' Sveum said. 'At the time, the only thing I could have done was tackle Bellhorn.'"

ProJo: "'I didn't hold Bellhorn,' said a clearly disappointed Sveum. 'They were so close together. I was waving Johnny in to make sure he knew the ball had bounced back (to right fielder Matt Stairs) so quick. I just lost track of Bell. He read the ball so good. It was just one of those plays. I should have held him.' When Bellhorn looked up, he saw Sveum waving and kept on motoring around the bag."

First, I never saw a replay that showed Sveum initially giving the stop sign. It could have happened, but I don't think it was mentioned during the telecast. Second, Sveum's quotes sound contradictory; he says he saw Bellhorn right on Damon's heels, but he also "forgot" about him. There are only three bases to keep track of -- how do you forget a baserunner?

Finally, NESN showed a clip from (I think) the first base camera that showed Damon sprinting several steps past Sveum while Sveum looks back towards third base (where Bellhorn would be) and he's still windmilling his arm, obviously waiving Bellhorn around also. That seems to fly in the face of what he said after the game. ... And contrary to what Sveum said, I don't see why he couldn't have waived Damon around with his right arm and put up a stop sign with his left hand for Bellhorn. And once Damon had run past, Sveum could have put both hands up to stop Bellhorn. Yelling and pointing might have helped too.

It's not the first time Sveum has sent a runner to certain death at the plate. He did it to Manny Ramirez back on May 12 against Cleveland. Ramirez was still 3-4 steps from touching third base when the left fielder had the ball in his hand (at Fenway).

Also: The Globe's refusal to print the word "fart" was amusing. ... "So far, so good for Nomar" ... Some ugly numbers by the pitching staff. ... You know things are going bad when 68-year-old Benito Santiago steals third base on you (his first theft since 2002).

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