Monday, April 12, 2010

Out by a mile

The denouement of Sunday's game was another lesson in "be careful what you wish for." I had grumped here that third base coach Scott Ullger was too passive early in Friday's game. On Sunday, J.J. Hardy was ... well, the title to this post says it.

The postgame explanations from the Twins camp are consistent: With the drastic overshift on for Jim Thome, there was no way for Alexei Ramirez to get into position to take the Juan Pierre's throw, and neither Ullger nor Hardy expected Mark Teahen to vacate third base to serve as the relay man.

Hardy, as a shortstop, ought to know something about who handles relays.

I am loathe to criticize Ullger for sending Hardy. When I saw the ball hit the wall, I expected Hardy to be waved home. I did not expect to see an infielder with the ball as Hardy rounded third.

But then, I'm not sure what use Teahen would have been had he stuck to the "expected" role of covering third. The only base there could be a play on that ball was home.

A few points about the play that you won't see in the game stories, because it involves noting weaknesses of players:

*Juan Pierre made a strong throw from the warning track. Teahen may nor may not be the planned relay man; the point is that the throw got to him on the fly. I didn't think Pierre had that in him.

* Ullger may have learned something from that play about Hardy's baserunning speed. Yes, he's a middle infielder; no, he's not a burner. (For that matter, the same is true of Orlando Hudson.)

* Most third base coaches move well down the line to get an angle on the relay and the runner, giving them a chance to put up a late stop sign. Ullger didn't do that. Instead, he hung around third base — and was actually on third base as the play went on.

Jim Margalus of Sox Machine suspects Ullger was trying to fake Teahen into believing that he was the base runner. There's no question: Ullger shouldn't have been where he was. It's illegal.

Oh well. A 5-2 record on this road trip is nothing to be bummed about. My Sunday's post looked on the dark side of the Twins' record; today is henceforth for positive thoughts. It's the home opener, I have tickets, and I will not fret further about baserunning or Jose Mijares.


  1. Thanks, Ed. I wondered if I was the only one who had noticed Ullger straddling third base as Hardy ran towards home. So that is illegal. I was wondering.

  2. Too late now, but a great question would've been who would hit the first home run in the new ballpark.