Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon says umpires going too far in trying to speed up game

CHICAGO — Rays manager Joe Maddon may be running out of patience with the efforts of Joe West's umpiring crew to speed up games.

Maddon went onto the field when umpire Angel Hernandez didn't grant Carl Crawford's request for a timeout against quick-working Mark Buehrle and called the next pitch a strike: "The hitter has to get set, that cannot be included in the pace of the game edict,'' Maddon said.

(Plus when he went out, Hernandez didn't acknowledge him, creating an odd, and potentially dangerous, situation until West called time from third.)

And that was after Maddon complained that West, a veteran crew chief, went too far too fast Tuesday, saying it was "inappropriate" for West to shadow him to the mound during a sixth-inning pitching change.

"I didn't like it," Maddon said. "And you can write that. It's not the way it should be. It has nothing to do with pace of the game."

To which West said, essentially, not so fast.

"My job is to keep the game moving; his job is that he's got to get his relief pitcher ready," West told the St. Petersburg Times before Wednesday's game. "He waited for that reason, and I'm sure that's why he took so long to go to the mound. He's got his job to do, and I've got mine to do. That's okay if he thought I rushed him."

Maddon said he believes strongly that he should be able to talk to his pitcher "without the umpire being privy to the conversation" and told West how he felt.

"I was definitely taking (David Price) out, but I didn't like the idea of being shadowed so quickly," Maddon said.

"The bad part is that I'm going through this exchange with David coming out of the game. … That should be between David and I. I get it done, and then the umpire comes out, and then I say I want the next pitcher."

To that point, West laughed: "Eavesdropping? That's okay."

West is the umpire who caused a stir this season saying it was "pathetic and embarrassing" how slow the Red Sox and Yankees played and a "disgrace" to baseball.

The most interesting point to this controversy is that at 2 hours, 22 minutes, Tuesday's game was the Rays' shortest of the season.

NO WILLY: The Rays were without INF/DH Willy Aybar on Wednesday and will be again tonight. He returned to St. Petersburg to be with his wife for the birth of their child. He is expected to rejoin the Rays on Friday.

NO ZO: In a 3-for-28 skid, with nine strikeouts, that dropped his average to .228, Ben Zobrist was out of the lineup for the first time this season. "Just a night off," Maddon said. "I think he's been expanding his strike zone a little bit. I just want him to sit and watch a little bit."

Said Zobrist: "(Joe) feels like I'm pressing a little bit too much."

With Zobrist out, Evan Longoria moved back into the No. 3 spot in the order and Sean Rodriguez started at second, delivering a career-high three hits.

SHIELDS READY: RHP James Shields said he has had no issues, nor made any changes in his between-start routine, after throwing a career-high 121 pitches in 30-degree temperatures his last start.

"I feel really good right now," Shields said.

After winning for the first time in seven tries at Fenway Park in his last start, Shields is looking for his first in three starts at U.S. Cellular Field.

"It'd be good to get two milestones in one road trip," Shields said.

MISCELLANY: Maddon's first comment postgame: "Is it snowing yet?" … Tonight's game will be on heard on 970-AM; flagship 620-AM has the NFL draft. … INF/OF Dan Johnson hit his seventh homer and Hank Blalock his first for Triple-A Durham.

Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon says umpires going too far in trying to speed up game 04/22/10 [Last modified: Thursday, April 22, 2010 1:50am]

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