Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Don Zimmer passes along safety squeeze play to Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon

The Rays are playing some Billy Ball.

The safety squeeze play with runners on first and third that Joe Maddon so favors, and used twice Saturday, was the suggestion of senior adviser Don Zimmer, who picked it up 35 years ago from the late Billy Martin.

"Martin used to drive me crazy with it," Zimmer said. "I wasn't smart enough to think of it — you know me."

But Zimmer saw enough of it managing against Martin in the late '70s and early '80s, and serving as a coach for Martin in New York in 1983, that he put the play to use when he managed the Cubs and again as a coach for Joe Torre with the Yankees.

And in Maddon's first spring on the Rays job, he made it a point to ask Zimmer about it since the Yankees had done it to the Angels when Maddon was a coach there.

The basic plan is relatively simple: Because it's not a suicide squeeze, the hitter can pick a workable pitch then bunts the ball toward first (because the first baseman is holding on the other runner), and the man on third only breaks for home when he sees that the ball is on the ground. As a bonus, the runner on first moves into scoring position at second.

"It's almost unstoppable if you do it right," Zimmer said. "Easiest RBI in the world."

The Rays have done it successfully at least 17 times over Maddon's four-plus seasons (according to baseball-reference.com data), and are continually looking for ways to tweak it.

"We've stumbled onto a few things with it," Maddon said. "They are his ideas presented to us, and we've been able to morph it a little bit."

Zimmer takes pride every time he sees it work. "Joe's a big advocate of it," he said. "In fact, he's used it probably more than I did."

Plus, Zimmer said, there's something to be said for passing something on. "Everything you do in baseball," he said, "there's a reason why you do it."

Don Zimmer passes along safety squeeze play to Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon 05/29/10 [Last modified: Saturday, May 29, 2010 9:07pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. St. Petersburg's Sebastien Bourdais vows to return for IndyCar finale

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Sebastien Bourdais was in one of the best race cars he'd ever had, so fast that most of his competitors thought he would win the pole for the Indianapolis 500.

    Sebastien Bourdais does physical therapy at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana in Indianapolis. Bourdais broke his pelvis, hip and two ribs in an accident during qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 on May 20. He plans to return home to St. Petersburg soon to continue therapy. [Associated Press]
  2. Yellow cards stall Rowdies offense in tie with St. Louis

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — It's not the result they wanted, but it certainly could have been worse. Neill Collins' 87th-minute header off a corner kick was the reward the Rowdies settled for Saturday night during a 1-1 draw with St. Louis before an announced 6,068 at Al Lang Stadium.

  3. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Catholic to win state baseball title

    Baseballpreps

    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a 30-0 season. …

    Matheu Nelson celebrates after scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning, when Calvary Christian took a 6-0 lead.
  4. Numerous lapses add up to frustrating Rays loss to Twins

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — While the Rays made some good defensive plays, threw a couple of big pitches when they needed to and got a few, and just a few, key hits, there were some obvious things they did wrong that led to them losing Saturday's game to the Twins 5-3:

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter says the Twins’ tiebreaking homer came on a pitch that was “close to where I wanted it.”
  5. Rays journal: Steven Souza Jr. laughing right along after comical dive

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Souza being Souza.

    That seemed to be the best way to describe the entertaining — and comically bad — dive Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. attempted in Friday's game, and the good humor he showed in handling the fallout, including a standing ovation his next at-bat from the …

    Twitter