Can you hear me now? Bullpen phone mixup sinks Cardinals

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During his postgame press conference Tony La Russa shed light on the odd sequence of events that led to the Rangers taking the lead in the eighth inning, explaining that he stayed with left-hander Marc Rzepczynski to face right-handed slugger Mike Napoli and then used Lance Lynn solely to intentionally walk Ian Kinsler because the bullpen coach never heard him call for Jason Motte to get warmed up.

Seriously.

According to La Russa the dugout first placed a call to the bullpen to have Motte warm up alongside Rzepczynski, which would have gotten him ready to face Napoli. However, bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist either never picked up the phone or didn’t hear the instruction correctly.

Later a second call was made, but Lilliquist once again misunderstood the instructions and, according to La Russa, thought he heard “Lynn” rather than “Motte” even though Lynn was only to be used in what the manager described as an emergency situation. “I saw Lynn and was like ‘OK, what are you doing here,'” La Russa explained, adding that crowd noise has caused similar problems at other ballparks.

So without Motte ready to pitch La Russa stuck with Rzepczynski, who allowed the go-ahead double to Napoli, and then brought in Lynn only to remove him after an intentional walk. Motte finally came in after that and did his job, striking out Elvis Andrus to the end the inning, but the damage had already been done.

And all because the calls from the dugout to the bullpen were misunderstood.

Rob Manfred says Tampa Bay must pick up pace on new stadium

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred wants Tampa Bay to work a little quicker on getting the Rays a new ballpark.

Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg has been working for nearly a decade to get a new stadium for the club and signed a three-year agreement with the City of St. Petersburg early in 2016 to search for a site in the Tampa Bay area. Manfred wants that search to pick up some steam.

“I think it’s fair to say we want the process to take on a better pace moving forward,” Manfred said Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, home of the Rays since their first season in 1998.

The Rays were averaging 15,815 fans per game before Wednesday night’s contest against the Toronto Blue Jays. That is just over half the major league average of 30,470. Tropicana Field and its location have been almost universally blamed as the reason for the poor attendance.

“I’ve been pretty clear that they need a new facility here, a major league quality facility in an A-plus location,” Manfred said. “It is time to move that decision to the front burner here in Tampa.”

The matter of how a stadium would be financed has been tabled until a site is determined, but Sternberg continued to express confidence in the Tampa Bay market.

“I’ve had the opportunity to bail on it many times over the years,” he said. “I won’t say this is a slam dunk, it’s certainly not. But I think we can do something that’ll at least double our attendance. That’s a lot to ask for.”

Manfred said Major League Baseball “doesn’t have a firm timetable” for what steps to take if the Rays fail to get an agreement to build a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area, but but added that “it is a topic of discussion in the industry, the lack of progress.”

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Robinson Cano leaves game with hamstring tightness

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Bad news for the Mariners this evening: Robinson Cano left Seattle’s game against the Atlanta Braves with tightness in his left hamstring.

Cano walked off the field after legging out a double — his second of the game — in the third inning. He pulled up as he approached second base and walked off the field, accompanied by a trainer. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury. The Mariners have a day off Thursday before opening a series at the Yankees on Friday night, so they have some time to evaluate him.

Cano is hitting .277/.377/.460 with 19 homers and 78 RBI on the year.