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Tampa Bay Rays World Series: Splotch draws suspicion

PHILADELPHIA — Manager Joe Maddon questioned whether a dark splotch on the bill of Phillies' starter Joe Blanton's cap had anything to do with the effectiveness of his pitches.

At the end of the second inning, Maddon told home plate umpire Tom Hallion about the splotch and, concerned it might be a foreign substance, asked Hallion to check the balls. Hallion said he would, and there was no further action as Blanton pitched, effectively, into the seventh.

"We did notice it was rather dark," Maddon said. "I did bring it to their attention. Quite frankly I did and I asked them to just watch it and be vigilant about it. Nothing happened, obviously. But I was concerned about it early on."

Hallion took no action and, after the game, Blanton and Phillies manager Charlie Manuel attributed the splotch to the normal accumulation of dirt and moisture on the hat during the course of a season.

"It was nothing," Blanton said. "I mean, they rub the balls up with whatever they rub 'em on. You rub it up, get it on your hand, and I'm constantly trying to get moisture and, you know, just touch my hands. It's nothing sticky. Anybody can go touch it. It's basically just dirt from the ball that it gets over time. So many starts and I haven't changed my hat. It just gets rubbed on my hat."

Added Manuel: "Actually I didn't know what Joe was talking to the umpire about, but you look at my hat," he said, lifting it up off his head. "… It's got the same kind of stuff he's talking about."

MLB vice president of umpiring Mike Port said he didn't notice "anything untoward" and that Hallion "never had any cause to take it beyond that.''

The story was originally posted on MLB.com based on a raw feed from Fox TV, then withdrawn.

HINSKE'S QUICK IMPACT: As disappointed as Eric Hinske was to be left off the Rays' roster for the ALCS and World Series, he worked hard to stay ready in case he was needed.

Sunday, he was.

With DH Cliff Floyd sidelined by what he said is a slightly torn labrum in his right shoulder, the Rays activated Hinske in his place for the rest of the Series, and, in his first at-bat since Sept. 28, Hinske hit a pinch-hit homer in the fifth.

"It's kind of bittersweet because you never want to see anybody get hurt, but, yeah, I'm excited to be active and have a chance to help any way I can," Hinske said.

Floyd, 35, tweaked the shoulder diving back into second base in Game 2 on Thursday. He considered it a minor matter until waking up Friday night with it throbbing, then had more discomfort when trying to take batting practice on Saturday. He will have an MRI to confirm the diagnosis and said he will try to rehab, but if he needs surgery he is likely to instead retire.

The Rays had to request permission to make the roster move and have team Dr. Koco Eaton speak to MLB personnel.

Hinske hit .247 with 20 homers and 60 RBIs during the season, but Carl Crawford's return from surgery for the playoffs made Hinske expendable. He was active but didn't play in the division series, then was left off the roster the next two rounds but kept working out daily with the team.

FAIR PLAY: 3B Evan Longoria remained sure Sunday that he made the right play trying to make a play — however bad it looked or historic it would have been — on Carlos Ruiz's ninth-inning slow bouncer that scored the winning run in Game 3.

"It went through my mind; I'd be lying to you if I didn't say I thought about it going foul," Longoria said. "But we'd done our ground balls and watched how the ball rolls on this (field), and it wasn't going foul.

"For me to just stand there and let the ball roll and stay fair would have been a whole heck of a lot worse than me trying to make a play and throwing it over (C Dioner Navarro's) head."

MISCELLANY: Hinske was the 23rd player with a pinch-hit Series homer. It is the first Series since 1975 to feature two pinch-hit homers (Philly's Eric Bruntlett hit one in Game 2). … The Phillies' reserves and starters were introduced in pregame ceremonies; the Rays opted to be introduced as a team. … With a 1:47 a.m. finish, Game 3 is believed to be the latest ending in Series history, though records are not complete.

Tampa Bay Rays World Series: Splotch draws suspicion 10/26/08 [Last modified: Monday, October 27, 2008 7:13pm]

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