Dusty Baker was reached for comment this morning regarding the Derek Lowe stuff. And he let fire with both barrels. John Fay of Cincinnati.com has the story, with these delicious quotes among others:
“I’m not denying nothing. I didn’t order anyone to hit him. I told (Mat Latos) to buzz him and make him uncomfortable. That’s what happened. Nobody hit him. Then he hit our guy … What he was talking about was something that he said and did a few years. You got to ask him what that was … Go ask him since he made it public … The word was whatever he did and said probably there was a good chance he was drinking at the ballpark and he don’t remember what he said or what he did.”
For what it’s worth, Baker tends to be a pretty thoughtful and mild-mannered guy. Quiet, even. So to hear all this, especially the “he was probably drinking in the clubhouse” stuff suggests that Lowe REALLY pissed him off somehow.
For his part, Lowe said he was done talking and would offer nothing else today. So … Dusty wins? I think Dusty wins.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.