August 02, 2010
The home-plate celebration broken leg.
The postgame-interview face pie torn meniscus.
These freak injuries have nothing on the pitching coach/reliever roughhouse-wrestling strained rib muscle.
The Tampa Bay Rays placed right-handed set-up man Grant Balfour(notes) on the disabled list because of an injury to his left side suffered because he and pitching coach Jim Hickey (pictured carrying the glove) were engaged in tomfoolery on the field before batting practice Friday.
Balfour, a highly valuable bridge to closer Rafael Soriano(notes), is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. His loss prompted general manager Andrew Friedman to acquire Chad Qualls(notes) from the Arizona Diamondbacks in a deadline deal.
The Rays, who are one game behind the New York Yankees in the AL East standings, seem to be taking this well considering. Balfour, one of the league's harder throwers and more effective relievers, had pitched 22 times in the seventh inning this season without allowing a run. The Aussie rules. Or, ruled.
"[It's] just kind of a freaky thing ... something that guys do almost every day in these situations," manager Joe Maddon said. "Nothing ever happens. It happened."
Yep, it's all fun and games until someone loses a reliever.
Unlike Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez, who banned the shaving-cream face pie after Chris Coghlan(notes) ripped up his knee last week, Maddon said he won't make any changes to his team's conduct policy.
Considering the nature of the baseball season — the redundancy, the cabin fever, the claustrophobia — it's foolish to expect guys not to jump on each other's backs from time to time in a playful, ancient Greek sort of way.
My problem with this: Hickey is a coach. Boys will be boys, but Hickey's supposed to be an adult. Shouldn't Dan Wheeler(notes) or James Shields(notes) be jumping on Balfour's back doing the Boston Crab — or whatever kind of shenanigans?
The Rays front office, too, won't punish anyone. But Friedman almost — almost — made it sound like things would be different from now on.
"It's obviously very frustrating and obviously very avoidable now that you look back on it in retrospect," Friedman said. "Both guys were kidding around; It's what happens in a major league clubhouse all the time.
"Nothing [bad] ever happens, but when it does, hopefully it makes people more conscious of that because we have a chance to do special things this year, and that's the part of it that's frustrating."
Ah, Friedman is playing "the disappointed parent" card. But shouldn't somebody get grounded over this?
I'm not suggesting Hickey lose his job, although, would it be the most shocking thing if he did after the season? He's not a 25-year-old player. He's a man, and he's 48.
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