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Media War! Lou Piniella thinks Steve Phillips is no diamond

Big League Stew

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It wouldn't be baseball season if a player or manager didn't have burning ears over something said about them in the media.

And just as the Mets' David Wright and windbag Mike Francesa finished "talking it out", here comes news that Lou Piniella and Steve Phillips may be in the early throes of an old-fashioned Midwest-East Coast media battle.

The issue at hand? Well, Sweet Lou takes umbrage at Phillips' recent claim that Kosuke Fukudome wasn't handled very well during his first season in America.

Said Phillips in an interview with the local ESPN radio station in Chicago:

"My view is Lou doesn't have a great deal of patience for assimilation into culture, assimilation into the team. He is just not the most patient guy around, and he tends to verbalize his frustrations in an angry way. I think that may have affected Fukudome a little bit."

Said Piniella in response:

"I don't have much respect for Steve Phillips. Let him be around a little more and see what transpires before he makes assumptions. I've lost total respect for this guy. If he had something to say, let him say it to me."

Piniella apparently didn't offer anything further, instead letting Tribune writer Paul Sullivan prove just how silly, off-target and just plain wrong Phillips' comments were:

"Piniella played Fukudome in 150 games and gave him 501 at-bats, sticking with the right fielder despite his struggles before sitting him for a brief stretch in September. Fukudome then started the first two playoff games before Piniella sat him in Game 3."

As someone who escaped to a "nice, happy place" every time Fukudome walked up to the plate in August to take his corkscrew swings, I'd say that Piniella has every right to be a little angry with Sunday Night Baseball's newest hire. (Maybe Joe Morgan's old researching intern switched over to Phillips in the offseason?)

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