Shane Victorino and Charlie Manuel aren’t seeing eye-to-eye

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There’s a story in today’s Philadelphia Daily News about Shane Victorino and how he might bounce back from a relatively down 2010.  Charlie Manuel thinks its a matter of focus:

“First of all, I think he got a little bit more home-run happy. That might have had something to do with it. But also, I think it might have been the fact that we’ve been successful. We’ve won games and went to a couple World Series. It might be a relaxation thing or something like that.

“He just didn’t stay focused as much as he usually does. We talk about consistency. Every time we have a meeting, [we say] the game is about staying focused. They say, ‘Oh, there’s nothing wrong with us and we’ll win tomorrow. We’ll get ’em a couple days from now or next week or whatever.’ I think, sometimes, when you get secure, you get relaxed. It’s not like you mean to do that. It’s just kind of human nature. And all of a sudden you’ve got to be woken up to how you’re supposed to play.

It’s hard. You’ve heard me say we’re getting too complacent or we’re getting relaxed, this and that. But you go tell somebody that and he acts like he don’t see that. Being around as long as I have, in a way, I kind of understand that. But, at the same time, you have to back up and take inventory of yourself and be honest with yourself.”

Except Victorino doesn’t seem to want to buy into it:

“People try to use that as an answer. Why did guys struggle? Oh, because they’re comfortable. Charlie used that word complacent. I don’t know. My definition of complacent may be different than Charlie’s. Our team, I don’t think, ever gets complacent. It’s not us. It’s not our nature. It’s not the way we are,” he said.

“I absolutely understand why people would say that. But you look in our clubhouse. There’s no way our demeanor has changed. Our hunger is just the same. We ended up with 97 wins, the best record in baseball. In our defense, there’s no way you can say our team let up because of multiyear deals or because of big contracts. There are a lot of expectations and a lot of hunger. There are a lot of guys who want to turn things around and show people they’re still on the map from the offensive side.”

Interesting. Victorino goes on to talk about his down year being a matter of mechanics. Manuel, the former hitting coach, thinks it’s focus.  One would think that Manuel would go with mechanics too rather than imply that Victorino wasn’t mentally prepared.  But he didn’t. Why might he not?

Is the bad mechanics explanation simply not plausible? Maybe, and given that Manuel is not one who engages in b.s., perhaps he’s not willing to give a nod to an excuse. But if Victorino’s problem truly was one of focus, was it something Manuel missed as it was happening or something that was pointed out yet went unheeded by Victorino at the time?

Just a strange situation all around. While Phillies fans may have a better recollection on this than me, I can’t recall Manuel ever calling out a player, even mildly like this. Which leads me to believe that, in this case, he considers it a serious matter.

What’s goin’ on?

Clayton Kershaw could return on September 1

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Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw has been out since July 24 with a lower back strain. He’s slated to throw a three-inning simulated game in Pittsburgh on Monday, per Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. Plunkett adds that if all goes well, the earliest Kershaw could return is August 31 against the Diamondbacks, but September 1 is more likely against the Padres.

Kershaw, 29, hit the disabled list on a pace to win his fourth Cy Young Award. He’s 15-2 with a 2.04 ERA and a 168/24 K/BB ratio in 141 1/3 innings.

The Dodgers have managed just fine without Kershaw. The club is 19-4 since July 24. At 87-35, the Dodgers own baseball’s best record, well ahead of the second-best Astros at 76-48.

Ian Kinsler was fined for ripping umpires publicly. Brad Ausmus says it’s the largest fine he’s seen in 25 years.

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Last week, Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler was ejected from a game against the Rangers after giving home plate umpire Angel Hernandez a look after a pitch was thrown outside for a ball. Kinsler was apparently unhappy with calls Hernandez had made earlier. Manager Brad Ausmus, too, was ejected.

After the game, Kinsler said that Hernandez “needs to find another job.” He added, “…he needs to stop ruining baseball games.”

Kinsler was fined by Major League Baseball for his remarks, Mlive’s Evan Woodbery reports. According to Ausmus, the fine levied on Kinsler was the largest one he’s seen in nearly 25 years in baseball. Kinsler said, “I said what I felt and what I thought. If they take offense to that, then that’s their problem.” Ausmus said, “To single out one player as a union is completely uncalled for.”

As Ashley noted on Saturday, the umpires wore white wristbands to protest “escalating attacks on umpires.” The umpires agreed to drop their protest on Sunday after commissioner Rob Manfred agreed to meet with the umpire union’s governing board, Gabe Lacques of USA TODAY Sports reports.