PORT CHARLOTTE — Rays manager Kevin Cash asked Twins counterpart Rocco Baldelli, one of his good friends and former coaches, for a favor Monday, shortening the planned seven-inning game to six because the Rays had run out of pitching.
Baldelli agreed, but his permission came with a price, as he made all kinds of fun of Cash in his postgame interview.
“That’s a Kevin Cash move right there,” Baldelli said. “You’ve got to be pretty big to be able to change the game after the game has started. To be able to make a move like that, and everyone just kind of go along with it, says a lot about what he can do on a baseball field.”
Baldelli was reminded then that Cash won the American League Manager of the Year award last season.
“I know that,” Baldelli said. “Everyone knows that, believe me. So that’s kind of where it originated. And who am I to stand in the way of Kevin?”
Did Baldelli consider saying no, as any changes to the planned seven innings were supposed to be made in advance, and usually it’s the visiting team that runs out of pitchers since the home team has other players available?
“No, you don’t want to know what happens around here when someone gives him an answer like that,” Baldelli said. “Everyone around here, they want to avoid having to do something about that with Kevin.”
The Twins play the Braves on Tuesday. Baldelli was asked how many innings that game would be. His reply? “I’m going to have to ask Kev.”
The Rays used only five pitchers on Monday, but Cash said that knowing they have to play nine innings on Tuesday (since it’s a nationally televised ESPN game), he felt they didn’t want to go any further.
“Appreciate the Twins for being accommodating,” Cash said “We kind of ran out of pitching, and we were pushing guys a little bit farther than we were comfortable with. And then we’ve got the nine-inning game (Tuesday). So game two (of spring), not ideal. But we’re going to make sure we’re trying to communicate as well as possible.”