MILWAUKEE — Rays manager Joe Maddon insisted he thought he was working within the rules and not trying to get around them. Either way he found out he was wrong about Monday's Sam Fuld pitching move and told the umpires he was sorry.
Maddon apologized to the crew before Tuesday's game after receiving a call from MLB vice president Joe Torre explaining he had been wrong in thinking he could have Fuld warm up to buy time for another reliever without having to stay in and pitch.
"I wasn't trying to get away with anything," Maddon said. "It was a very innocent, non-evil mistake on my part."
Maddon sent Fuld to the mound before the eighth inning for what he felt was a legitimate reason.
With the Rays having just expanded their lead from 5-1 to 8-1, he wanted to use reliever Cesar Ramos rather than the more valuable Joel Peralta, who was warmed up and had started to run onto the field. Since Ramos needed more time to get ready, Maddon sent out Fuld to stall, thinking that since Fuld had pinch-hit for reliever J.P. Howell he was already in the game in the pitcher's spot and not subject to the usual rule, requiring an incoming reliever to face at least one batter.
Maddon said he told veteran home plate umpire Bob Davidson his intent, and neither Davidson nor crew chief Jerry Layne did anything about it at the time. But after talking with Torre, Maddon was made aware he had violated the rule.
"I was not totally aware of the rule like that because he had been in the game as a pinch-hitter," Maddon said. "I wasn't sure, I wasn't unsure. I really thought I was going to be able to do what I did. So I am very culpable in this situation."
(Though the point could be made that had Howell not been pinch-hit for, he could have warmed up to similarly stall then been replaced with no issue.)
Making it more confusing, Layne told mlb.com after Monday's game that Davidson was told Fuld "was sore or couldn't pitch or something." Fuld and Maddon were adamant that was not the case and didn't know where Davidson got that.
"I think it was a total miscommunication," Maddon said. "I never said anything about an injury."
The umpires refused to comment before Tuesday's game and MLB officials had no comment, though Maddon said he was "almost certain" this was the first time the issue came up, and he expected a rule will be drafted.
Fuld was surprised at the controversy, and a bit disappointed that he didn't get to actually pitch. He had a souvenir of the episode, though: a copy of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel with the Associated Press box score listing him as a pitcher.
That, too, was a mistake, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, as the official box score does not list him as his warm-up was not considered an official pitching appearance.
"It's even better," Fuld said, "that they messed it up."