When Florida skipper Edwin Rodriguez pulled starter Josh Johnson from Saturday’s contest versus St. Louis after 8 IP and just 99 pitches, prevailing logic amongst the region’s dozen or so baseball fans was that E-Rod had lost his mind. When reliever Leo Nunez blew the save shortly afterwards, the outcry was about as loud as you’d manage on local sports yack stations for a topic that didn’t concern The U, The Heat, the Dolphins or the recent reissue of The Eat’s “Communist Radio”. The Sun-Sentinel’s Juan C. Rodriguez (no relation) took in the controversy and assures us, “with rare exception, managers have sound method behind what many are too quick to call madness.” Clearly, he’s not been watching Jerry Manuel.
Talk about a rush to judgment. Was the move peculiar? Absolutely. So peculiar in fact that the first thing on Marlins™ fans minds should have been whether Johnson hurt himself. Even owner Jeffrey Loria threw up his arms and left his seat adjacent to the Marlins dugout in a huff without gathering all the facts. Did Loria of all people think Rodriguez would lift Johnson in that situation without a compelling reason?
After the game, Johnson revealed he™d hit the wall. He said he™d never sweated as much as he did Saturday night and he told Rodriguez he was spent. What was Rodriguez supposed to do? Smack him upside the head and tell him, œGet him in there you wimp! What would Loria™s reaction had been if Johnson, to whom he just commited $39 million, went back out there and got shelled, or worse, got hurt, because Rodriguez would not acknowledge his diminished condition?
œI was planning to send him back, Rodriguez said. œThat™s a no-brainer. He™s going back. Now you know the whole story¦I was surprised.
Johnson was honest with Rodriguez. Turns out, the blister on his middle finger was flaring up as well. What would Marlins fans be saying about Rodriguez if he sent out Johnson for the ninth, the blister explodes, and he misses his next two or three starts as a result?