MILWAUKEE -- Most anybody paying attention at the time had to wonder what was going on when Sam Fuld began to warm up prior to Milwaukee's turn at bat in the bottom of the eighth during the Rays' 8-4 win over the Brewers on Monday.
Evan Longoria had just given the Rays a seven-run lead via a three-run homer. Was Rays manager Joe Maddon that confident that the left-handed-throwing outfielder could get the job done on the bump, or did he have an ulterior motive?
Turned out, it was the latter.
Fuld had pinch-hit for reliever J.P. Howell in the top of the eighth, so to the Rays' way of thinking, Fuld technically had already filled the pitcher's shoes. So he took the mound and began warming up, ostensibly to pitch the eighth.
Not so fast ...
After Fuld completed his warmup tosses, Maddon paid Fuld a mound visit. Unfortunately for those hoping that "The Legend of Sam Fuld" would swell to include a pitching stint, they would be disappointed, as Maddon motioned to the bullpen for Cesar Ramos before Fuld faced a batter.
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Maddon explained that he had a hard time hearing on the phone in the dugout to talk to the bullpen. Joel Peralta was warmed up, but Maddon wanted Ramos. Thus, he sent Fuld to the mound with the understanding that he was already in the game in the pitcher's spot, so he did not have to pitch to a batter.
"He was a pinch-hitter," Maddon said. "He was in the game. He was already in the game."
By the time Fuld had finished warming up, Maddon said the Rays had Peralta and Ramos ready to go.
"[Fuld] had no chance to throw a pitch that inning," Maddon said. "I could see the Brewers looking over there [thinking], 'What is going on? Fuld is not in the report.'
"One pitch. All the infielders were begging for one pitch. But you can't do that. You don't want to incite the other team. And I was concerned about that to begin with. By having to do that, I was worried about inciting them. But it was no disrespect to the Brewers. It was just a matter of the way that happened so quickly, moving it on to the next guy."
Fuld's unexpected mound visit raised a slew of questions, including this one: A reliever typically must face one batter after he takes the mound to warm up, so why was Fuld granted his quick exit?
Crew chief Jerry Layne had a different take than Maddon.
"Fuld went out there, and from what I understand, [home-plate umpire Bob Davidson] was told that he was sore or couldn't pitch or something," Layne said. "He's supposed to pitch to a batter unless he's incapacitated, but we're not doctors."
Layne said he was unsure whether Maddon, Fuld or someone else had passed along the story about soreness.
"It's a situation where, if they do something like that, they're circumventing the rules, but as an umpire, there's nothing we can do about it," Layne said. "If that's what we're told -- he's hurt, or whatever -- we're not doctors. Can you imagine if we had a guy who stayed out there because we said, 'No, you have to pitch to one batter,' and then he throws out a rotator cuff?
"If they're going to buy time, they're going to buy time. There's no way around it. The only way to do it is to play with the rule a little."
The rule governing the substitution would seem to be Rule 3.05 (b), which states: If the pitcher is replaced, the substitute pitcher shall pitch to the batter then at bat, or any substitute batter, until such batter is put out or reaches first base, or until the offensive team is put out, unless the substitute pitcher sustains injury or illness which, in the umpire-in-chief's judgment, incapacitates him for further play as a pitcher.
Rule 3.08 addressing the subject did not make what happened any more clear as it reads: (a) If no announcement of a substitution is made, the substitute shall be considered as having entered the game when -- (1) If a pitcher, he takes his place on the pitcher's plate; (2) If a batter, he takes his place in the batter's box; (3) If a fielder, he reaches the position usually occupied by the fielder he has replaced, and play commences; (4) If a runner, he takes the place of the runner he has replaced.
Maddon nor Fuld made any mention of Fuld having soreness. But Fuld made it clear he was ready to go as he teased about his pitching prowess.
"I was throwing strikes," Fuld said. "I was hitting the zone. I was ready to get a guy out. I had some adrenalin going. That's for sure."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.