For all of the worry that Los Angeles Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig causes some people — "What if he makes a mistake in the playoffs that costs them a game?!" — what about manager Don Mattingly?
Mattingly has made a couple of doozies since becoming skipper, though mistaking Paco Rodriguez for another left-hander in the bullpen, J.P. Howell, didn't cost the Dodgers in a 3-2 victory against the Giants on Thursday night. Well, maybe it cost a few moments of clarity, because most of the characters involved had no idea what was happening.
After calling the bullpen for Rodriguez and removing slugger Hanley Ramirez from the game because of an injury at the same moment in the seventh inning, Mattingly had a thought in the dugout. He better tell umpire Gerry Davis that the moves were not part of a double switch. Oh, those crafty NL, non-DH rules!
Jimmy Bramlett of LAist (of all places) details what happened when Mattingly talked to Davis:
Instead of saying Rodriguez's name, Mattingly uttered Howell's name. Davis motioned for Rodriguez to leave the game. "I had no idea what was going on," Rodriguez said.
After making what Mattingly called, "A Freudian slip," he walked Rodriguez off the mound and to the dugout. Howell came in to pitch, and he was in something of a bind:
... Howell had to get ready quickly since he wasn't replacing an injured pitcher. "[Davis] was going to let me have a couple of extra pitches to warm up, but he wasn't going to give me 30," Howell said.
In fact Howell was completely clueless about how everything transpired. "I have no clue what happened out there," he [had] said as I approached.
That makes ... all of us. To make it more confusing, fans at Dodger Stadium probably thought they were experiencing mass deja vu in the next inning, when Rodriguez came in from the bullpen a second time. How?!
Even though it seemed like Mattingly had burned Rodriguez without him throwing a pitch, because he was never announced — and Mattingly had told the umpire that Howell was supposed to pitch, after all — Rodriguez was allowed to enter the game at a later point. Just use the old revolving door, Paco.
As LAist also pointed out, the mess Mattingly caused recalled another gaffe of his (on which umpires also messed up) three seasons ago:
Whoops! Get it all out of your system now, D. Baseball. Only 2 1/2 weeks until playoff rosters need to be frozen. Learn their names!