BALTIMORE — Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon called SS Yunel Escobar into his office Monday afternoon so he could explain how the waiver wire works and to erase any fear Escobar had about being traded to the Oakland A’s, because he is staying in Tampa Bay.
Maddon said it was something he had to do once he realized how upset Escobar was after Escobar learned the A’s had put in a claim and that the teams had until 1 p.m. today to work out a trade.
“I did talk to him about it to ameliorate his mind, have him understand that this is a baseball process. It happens to a lot of big-leaguers,” Maddon said. “The difference is I’m dealing with a guy that works a lot on emotion. I had to make sure Yuni understood our position on it and try to get him to go out there and play with a clear mind.”
Maddon said he discussed the matter with executive vice president Andrew Friedman and, “I was able to tell him we’re very, very pleased with what he’s doing. You can see he’s continuing to get better with us, to not be worried about anything happening over the next day.”
It’s common practice for teams to place players on waivers in August and for some players to get claimed. If the teams can’t strike a deal, the player is pulled off waivers. Nearly all of these moves are made in private. Maddon was upset that the claim on Escobar became public Sunday and felt he had to act.
“Yunie is really an emotional person, and you have to understand what we’re dealing with right here,” Maddon said. “I think part of the reason he likes it so much is because we do understand him, and I was happy to have that conversation with him to make him feel better, because it could impact his performance. Where he came from, how he grew up, that’s just who Yuni is and we and I understand that, so I thought it was necessary to have that discussion.”
After Monday night’s game, Escobar said he felt “a lot better” after talking to Maddon, said he likes playing in Tampa Bay and sees his time with the Rays as a “new beginning” to his career.
The decision could come today on Maddon’s decision to protest the Rays’ 5-4, 10-inning loss on Saturday after crew chief Bob Davidson allowed Blue Jays manager John Gibbons to challenge a call at first base after the pitcher was on the rubber and the batter, Escobar, was in the box.
Maddon submitted his side of the of the story Monday. He said he wasn’t sure if the team submitted any video evidence to back up Maddon’s claim.
“I feel good about our presentation,” Maddon said. “I feel strongly about what we said. I have not changed at all. I really believe we’re in the right. It’s just a matter of waiting for the decision.”
RF Wil Myers, who was ruled out on a pickoff throw to first base by Jays LHP Mark Buehrle after the review, said the Rays have a case because he said he would not have taken his lead if Buehrle wasn’t on the rubber. Besides, Myers said he was safe.
“I was surprised that they even challenged,” Myers said. “And even looking at the challenge, I’ve seen some plays not even that close not get overturned and to see that one, I didn’t see where it was a very obvious call to call me out. Looking at the replay, I thought my hand was in there before the tag. I was very surprised I was called out on that.”
Hanigan back today?
C Ryan Hanigan (left oblique strain) could rejoin the Rays today, Maddon said.
“He could be,” Maddon said.
Hanigan played three games at Class A Charlotte over the weekend and had Monday off.
OF David DeJesus (left hand fracture) likely will rejoin the team Sept. 1 when the rosters expand.
Myers at the plate
Myers entered Monday’s game with three hits in 18 at-bats since he returned from his broken wrist. He had 10 strikeouts, nine of them looking.
“I’m telling you, the high strikeouts don’t mean anything to me,” he said. “I might have rushed back maybe a couple of games early, but right now there’s no excuses. I’m struggling. I told them I was ready to come back, and I really feel like it’s only a matter of time before I’m swinging the bat well and not getting to two strikes and making contact on the pitches early in the count.”