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Zimmer "dumbfounded," Maddon "surprised" by Girardi's comments



Rays manager Joe Maddon said Sunday morning he considered the issues raised by Yankees first-year manager Joe Girardi a matter of "philsophical differences" that "does not deserve any legs.''

But Rays senior advisor Don Zimmer, a former Yankees coach who considers Girardi "like a son,'' had plenty to say Sunday morning, starting with that he was "dumbfounded" by Girardi's contention that catchers shouldn't be run over during spring training games. "I thought he was out of line,'' Zimmer said. "I'm surprised that Girardi went after it the way he did.''

Girardi was upset that Rays infielder Elliot Johnson crashed into Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli during a ninth inning play Saturday, resulting in a fractured wrist that will sideline the Yankees top catching prospect for 8-10 weeks. Girardi said again Sunday morning it was "disheartening" that something like that would happen in a spring game.

Zimmer added: "I'm surprised at Girardi. I woke up this morning and read that and I was dumbfounded. Of all people. Joe Girardi's a tough guy, a tough catcher. I don't know what spring training's got to do with it. I think something's been made big out of something that's been played right.''

Maddon said he considered it a good hard play and had no problems with it. He told the Times on Saturday night that he didn't differentiate between spring and regular-season and that he "never read that rule before" about catchers not getting run into during the spring. Girardi responded Sunday morning that on a play like that "there is no memo needed.''

Maddon said he was "a little bit surprised" at Girardi's comments and stuck to his position on Sunday, saying: "It was a good hard baseball play. We have to play the game one way all the time. That's the way we do things.''

Maddon acknowledged that the familiarity of playing the Yankees so often (three more times this spring and 18 in the regular season) coudl keep the issues alive. "If we have a chance and we have to hit a catcher we should and if they have a chance to take out one of our catchers they should, that's the way  the game's played. If it's the appropriate play to be made, make it. Period.''

And on the idea of Girardi saying he might want to have a conversation with him about the subject: "Honestly I really haven't even thought about that. If he would like - I like the guy. I like Joe. I've always liked Joe. If he would like to have a conversation, God, I'd like to talk about politics, I'm good with global warming, I'm good with a lot of different topics on a daily basis. I like iTunes, I download some stuff off iTunes, I like different restaurants, I like red wine. I have a lot of different areas I can do conversationally.''

Maddon also praised Cervelli for his comments in which he said the collision was "part of the game." Said Maddon: "I thought that was beautiful and I really respect the kid for saying that.''

Also, Maddon said OF Rocco Baldelli remains sidelined and won't play Sunday or Monday. He hasn't played since last Tuesday, and the Rays want to know his status by the end of the coming week.

As for the game against the Reds, the Rays aren't using too many regulars:

Johnson, 2b
Zobrist, lf
Upton, cf
Gomes, dh
Aybar, 3b
Richard, 1b
Navarro, c
Ruggiano, rf
Brignac, ss
Edwin Jackson is on the mound, with Troy Percival among the relievers scheduled for work. The Reds didn't bring Ken Griffey either.

[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:34am]


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