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Tampa Bay Rays third-base coach defends sending Bartlett home on key World Series play

ST. PETERSBURG — Rays third-base coach Tom Foley had the best view of arguably the most talked about — and second-guessed — play from Wednesday's season-ending 4-3 loss to the Phillies in Game 5 of the World Series.

With the score tied at 3 and two outs in the seventh inning, Foley waved Jason Bartlett home from second on an infield single by Akinori Iwamura. Although Bartlett was thrown out at the plate by 2B Chase Utley, Bartlett and Foley said they wouldn't have done anything differently.

Foley said he made the decision to send Bartlett after seeing Utley backhand the ball and turn to throw toward first. With Bartlett representing the go-ahead run, it was a gamble, but Foley figured a throw to first would give Bartlett plenty of time to score.

But Foley said Utley made a "hell of a play" — and fake — by throwing a one-hopper home to beat Bartlett. And with Bartlett running so hard, if Utley did fake the throw, there would have been a danger Bartlett could have been picked off third if he rounded too far, Foley said. Bartlett remembered making a similar play to pick off the Blue Jays' John McDonald at third.

"For me to stop (Bartlett), I'd had to stop him before he gets to third base," Foley said. "We don't play that way." Said Bartlett: "If it worked, we'd be talking about something different right now."

Rocco update: Although OF Rocco Baldelli said he still doesn't know what to expect with his pending free agency, he and the Rays acknowledge a special relationship and appear willing to at least discuss a possible return.

Baldelli, 27, said he has been thankful for the support given by the Rays, who drafted him out of high school in 2000 and backed him during his comeback from a career-threatening mitochondrial disorder.

"A lot of people or a lot of teams would have probably turned their back on me when I was going through a lot of these troubles," Baldelli said. "Because it is a business and they treated me like a person. I love playing here, and I'm going to wait and see what happens."

Executive VP Andrew Friedman said he is not sure how it will all work out with Baldelli.

"We do have a special relationship," Friedman said. "To be a part of what he's gone through, and see him at the lowest of moments, I think, has created that personal relationship. I'm sure we'll talk in the next few days."

Friedman added that Baldelli "has made this organization better, and I'm sure both sides will try to figure out a way to continue working together."

In the Hall: Some Rays will have their gear in a Baseball Hall of Fame exhibit to commemorate the World Series. LF Carl Crawford's road jersey, manager Joe Maddon's cap worn in Philadelphia and CF B.J. Upton's spikes will be included.

Web worthy: Crawford earned the Fielding Bible Award for the second time in the past three years, recognizing him as the best fielder at his position in the majors. The award is decided by a panel of 10 analysts, including several writers.

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com.

Tampa Bay Rays third-base coach defends sending Bartlett home on key World Series play 10/30/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 3, 2008 7:05pm]
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