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Tuesday, Jun 19, 2018
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Rays notes: Maddon backs off criticism of Escobar

TORONTO - Rays manager Joe Maddon backtracked Tuesday on his comments concerning the gesture Yunel Escobar made while crossing home plate Monday after his ninth-inning home run against the Blue Jays and defended Escobar's action.

Maddon said after Monday's game that he would talk to Escobar, adding, "I'm certain you're not going to see that again."

Apparently, you will.

Escobar occasionally makes the safe sign when he steps on the plate, which he did Monday after the former Blue Jay had been booed all afternoon by the Rogers Centre crowd.

"He does do that, as I found out, quite often after home runs," Maddon said. "Some people point to the sky, he shows a safe sign. It's one of those things people are going to interpret according to their own prejudices or thoughts or judgmental opinions. For me, I love the way he is. I want him to remain the way he is. He did nothing wrong."

Escobar became upset and grew animated Tuesday when asked if he had talked to Maddon. He said he talks to Maddon every day. He said he did not mean any disrespect to the fans or the Jays.

Maddon questioned why Toronto fans boo former Blue Jays.

"I don't quite understand that sometimes," Maddon said. "I thought Yunel did a great job (Monday) in the game. I loved his home run, and I'm never going to subtract from his celebratory manner."

Maddon has said he likes what he calls the "chrome" in Escobar's game. He said that is what makes Escobar the player that he is.

"He did nothing wrong," Maddon said. "People that want to say that he did, that's a fabrication on somebody's part based on your own personal judgments, period."

Can Hellickson hold on?

RHP Jeremy Hellickson starts this afternoon in the finale of this three-game series and six-game road trip looking to stop a trend of not being to hold on to big leads.

Opposing batters are hitting .340, and his ERA is 9.00 while pitching with a lead over his last six starts.

"I got to get better with runners on and limiting those innings that have been happening," Hellickson said. "I have no idea what it is."

Hellickson earned his second win of the season in his last start despite allowing eight runs — five in the eighth inning, when he started the frame with a 12-4 lead.

"We need to get him back on track in general," Maddon said. "He's pitched really well in spurts within each game he's thrown, and then he'll have that bad moment now and then. We just have to get him beyond that. I think it's more psychological than anything, because physically he's fine."

Hellickson doesn't think the issue is in his mind.

"I don't want to give up leads. I don't want to give up any leads, periods. I've been doing that a lot the last month," he said. "I don't think about that when I'm out there. All I'm thinking about is going out and being aggressive and trying to put up a zero."

Upon further review

As it turns out, umpires can change a call on the field to a foul ball if that's what the replay shows.

"I was wrong," Maddon said. "Apparently, it seems as though Pandora's box has been opened."

The issue came up Sunday when the umpires checked the replay to determine if RF Matt Joyce's line drive down the right-field line hit the top of the wall for a double or the foul pole for a home run. Maddon said he wanted the umpires to check the replay only if the chance of it being ruled foul was not an issue.

Sunday crew chief Gerry Davis said the umpires had that right. Maddon strongly disagreed until Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told him Tuesday that Davis was correct.

Maddon said that opens the door for a manager to request a replay on any call if he can convince the umpires that the ball might have left the park for a home run.

When asked if he might use that tactic, Maddon said, "You never know. Now that you know that you can do it for that reason, I'm going to say it's a home run, can you please review it and then make sure you're playing attention to everybody else on the field."


3B Evan Longoria will likely DH this afternoon. With Thursday being an off day, that will give him a day-and-a-half off his legs. … The off day will give the Rays a chance to juggle the rotation this weekend against the Yankees. Expect RHP Alex Cobb to find his way into a game. … RHP Jamey Wright had some anxious moments Monday afternoon as he awaited word on his family members, who live in Oklahoma City. Wright was relieved that everyone was safe following the tornado that ripped through Moore, just south of Oklahoma City. "(It) missed my parents and my wife's parents by 2 or 3 miles," Wright said.
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