Bartlett: No malice intended
Shortstop Jason Bartlett responded Thursday to claims made by Coco Crisp that he made a "shady" play by dropping his knee to block the bag Wednesday night, which ended up hurting Crisp's left hand as he tried to dive in headfirst.
"You can get someone injured badly by doing that," Crisp said.
But Bartlett said by no means was he trying to hurt Crisp; he said he was merely trying to dig a throw from Dioner Navarro out of the dirt, and when he reached to his right, it was his "instinct" to drop his knee down.
"People think I do it on purpose, and it's hard to explain, if a throw is right here, I'm not gonna drop my knee," Bartlett said. "The throw was in the dirt to my right, and the natural instinct is to put my knee down to try to pick it. And my knee happened to be there."
Bartlett said he's done that before, even a couple times as a member of the Twins against the Rays. He said Rocco Baldelli came up to him once and politely told him to watch his knee. Rays manager Joe Maddon said after Bartlett did that to the Rays last year while a member of the Twins, he instructed his team to slide feet first.
Maddon had no problem with Bartlett blocking the bag, which he said happens all the time.
“I’ve seen, oftentimes, when a middle infielder gets the ball or a third baseman or a catcher gets the ball, even sometimes at first base—I think Pujols did that to us this year on a pickoff at first base—it happens, you have time to get the chance to block the bag," Maddon said. "And you only do it when somebody’s coming head-first. It’s not very prudent to do that when somebody’s coming feet first. When it happened to us last year, my suggestion to our players was to slide feet first.”
Bartlett said when Crisp chirped at him after the play, he thought he was joking. But Bartlett said he wished he would have taken the throw in the eighth, so "it would have all been over with."
Crisp is indeed in the lineup tonight, so it'll be interesting to see if there's any fallout; though Maddon predicted there probably wouldn't be.
*In other pre-game news, reports on Troy Percival's bullpen session from Wednesday were positive, so much so that Maddon said the veteran closer is on track to come off the disabled list in the minimum time (June 13). Percival will throw another bullpen today.
*The lineup saw a few changes, with Bartlett hitting second, Crawford in the third slot and Upton at cleanup. Maddon had a meeting with the team before batting practice about improving their approach at the plate, especially with two strikes, considering they struck out 10 times on Wednesday.