While New York’s Philip Hughes and Kei Igawa have combined to hold the Twins hitless through 5 innings so far today, we’ll turn our attention to the above incident in the 9th inning of yesterday’s Yankees/Tampa tilt, as covered by Newsday’s Anthony Rieber.
“I think it’s uncalled for,” a visibly angry Joe Girardi, a former catcher, said minutes after Elliot Johnson knocked Francisco Cervelli out of the Rays’ 4-1 exhibition win at Legends Field. “It’s spring training. You’re going to get people hurt. That’s what we got. We got Cervelli hurt. I’m all for playing hard, but I don’t think it’s the time when you run over a catcher.”
Will there be ramifications the next time the Yankees play the Rays? Well, there will be plenty of opportunities for the Yankees to make a statement if they wish. The teams will meet again in St. Petersburg on Wednesday, twice more after that in spring training and 18 times in the regular season.
Most of the Yankees’ regulars already had left Legends Field for the day when Johnson slammed into Cervelli while trying to score on a double to leftfield. Cervelli held on to the relay throw from shortstop Wilson Betemit for the out. But word surely got around the Yankees’ grapevine Saturday night, especially given that many players attended a sponsor’s dinner at a local steakhouse.
“During the season, I’m all for it,” Girardi he said. “As a catcher, I understand that. Spring training, I don’t get it. I’ve always known that you don’t do it.”
Rays manager Joe Maddon, who hid in his office and refused to speak with New York reporters, earlier had told Tampa-area scribes: “I loved the hardball. We’re playing it hard, we’re playing it right. It was a bang-bang play at the plate. I couldn’t tell exactly where the catcher was in regard to the plate. He was trying to score a run right there, and that was part of the game.”
Maddon was unaware of Girardi’s comments when he made his. Johnson, a second baseman who turns 24 Sunday and who played last season in Triple-A, said he got a lot of attaboys when he returned to the dugout and said he’d “probably do the same thing” if the situation occurred again.”
I tend to agree with the Yankee skipper on this one. There’s a time and place for maiming the catcher. The All-Star Game, for instance.