Rays' Escobar irks Maddon with showboating after home run

Rays shortstop Yunel Escobar insists that his actions after a ninth-inning home run in Toronto were not directed at the fans or his ex-teammates.
Rays shortstop Yunel Escobar insists that his actions after a ninth-inning home run in Toronto were not directed at the fans or his ex-teammates.
Published May 21, 2013

TORONTO — SS Yunel Escobar responded to constant booing in his return to Rogers Centre by hitting a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning that gave the Rays a late shot before they lost 7-5.

But now Escobar, who played 21/2 seasons in Toronto, will have to answer to manager Joe Maddon because of his reaction afterward, a slow trot around the bases, a look toward the Jays dugout and a gesture when he crossed the plate — slashing his arms in an exaggerated safe sign.

"I'm sure that was an emotional moment for him," Maddon said. "The booing probably promoted the reaction that he had and I'm going to talk to him about that (today).

"I loved the fact that he competed like he did. We've been talking about how well he's been doing. He's been doing great. I love him on this team. I love him in the clubhouse. I love everything about this young man. But I still want to talk to him about the reaction after the home run. And I'm certain you're not going to see that again."

Escobar, who was surprised by the fans' reaction, said the gesture was something he does often and didn't see it as controversial.

"What I do at home plate I always do every time I hit a homer," he said, with Joel Peralta interpreting. "I don't want it to be something more than that. It's something that I do every time I cross home plate."

He said he will tell Maddon as much: "I'll be here to talk to him about it. I just care about the team winning games."

Blue Jays pitcher Casey Janssen, who gave up the homer, said he didn't take the gesture personally.

"I don't think it was directed at me," he said. "We were good teammates, I had no problem with him, he had no problem with me. I did hear the chorus of boos and I'm sure he was a little frustrated at times. He's an emotional guy, he's a prideful guy. It was his moment to shine and he did his thing."

And he didn't think Escobar meant much to offend his ex-mates.

"He's got quite a few buddies on this team still and it's definitely not the last time we're going to play them," Janssen said, "so I don't think you want to burn bridges like that."

The Rays got the tying run on after the homer when Desmond Jennings singled and Matt Joyce walked, but Ben Zobrist struck out.

EVAN'S SAKE: 3B Evan Longoria extended his career-best hitting streak to 14 games and his team-leading RBI total to 29 and, most impressively, reached in his MLB-most 43rd game (out of 44). "It's his best baseball I've seen him play, day in and day out, offensively and defensively," Maddon said. "Everything about him has been superb. And it's been fun to watch."

MEDICAL MATTERS: C Jose Molina ran Monday with no issues from the tight left hamstring that forced him from Saturday's game, was available Monday and may return to the lineup tonight. … RHP Brandon Gomes (right lat strain) is eligible to come off the DL on Wednesday but is not close to being ready since he has not thrown off a mound yet.

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MISCELLANY: Zobrist, a switch-hitter, batted right-handed vs. Jays knuckleballer RHP R.A. Dickey, as did Jose Lobaton. … INF Ryan Brett joined advanced Class A Charlotte after fulfilling his 50-game drug-related suspension. OF Josh Sale, who also was suspended, is expected back today.