Jose Contreras was placed on the disabled list Sunday with a right flexor pronator strain and manager Charlie Manuel was questioned about whether the reliever’s recent heavy workload led to the elbow problems.
Not only did Manuel deny that premise, he did so very strongly. Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com has the details:
I feel like, first of all, there’s no way in hell we overused Contreras. That’s how I feel. There’s no way. What did he pitch? The most [consecutive] games was three. Then he had a day off. He pitched five times in seven days. We weren’t trying to stay away from him. He was closing games. That’s how I look at it.
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. commented that Contreras “had been pitching quite a bit” when the DL stint was announced, but he later clarified that he wasn’t criticizing Manuel’s handling of the 39-year-old. Manuel was asked if anyone in the front office said anything to him about pitcher workloads and responded: “That’s none of your business.”
Manuel no doubt had various reasons for using Contreras so often, not the least of which is that closer Brad Lidge was on the disabled list already, but ultimately a 39-year-old reliever pitching five times in seven days qualifies as a very heavy workload. I’m sure even Manuel would admit that if there wasn’t criticism attached.
Last but not least, my favorite part of Manuel’s rant when questioned about Contreras came when one reporter told him criticism is “the nature of the game” and he replied: “I don’t think I look like a nature boy.” That’s a funny quote coming from anyone, but becomes downright hilarious if you’ve ever seen and heard Charlie Manuel. Excuse me, Charlie “Not A Nature Boy” Manuel.
ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.
MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.
Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.
Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this:
Earlier, Craig covered Rob Manfred’s comments in which he accused the Major League Baseball Players’ Association of “a lack of cooperation” concerning some proposed rule changes. The union would need to agree to any such changes, which have included automatic intentional walks, limiting mound visits, pitch clocks, and swapping batting practice times for home and visiting teams.
Manfred went on to say that MLB will impose those rule changes unilaterally next year as allowed in the latest collective bargaining agreement.
Tony Clark, the executive director of the MLBPA, responded to Manfred’s comment. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:
“Unless your definition of ‘cooperation’ is blanket approval, I don’t agree that we’ve failed to cooperate with the Commissioner’s office on these issues.”
“Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this off season we’ve been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened.”
“I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don’t continue, notwithstanding today’s comments about implementation. As I’ve said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open.”
“My understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2min limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of Game warning/fine adjustments.”
Clark’s response isn’t anything too shocking. Manfred’s accusation was pretty baseless, but it’s behavior to be expected of a commissioner who comes down on the side of the owners over the players almost always.