06/20/12 9:23 PM ET
Skippers trade barbs in Peralta pine tar ordeal
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
Rays manager Joe Maddon directed pointed comments toward Nationals manager Davey Johnson following Tuesday night's game. Maddon defended Peralta and accused Johnson of being "cowardly," in addition to using another name.
Prior to Wednesday night's contest, Johnson was asked if he planned to try and talk to Maddon about his comments.
"No, I didn't know him that well, but I thought he was a weird wuss anyway," Johnson said. "I understand where he's coming from. His job as a manager is to protect the players. Striking out at whoever he thinks is causing your players any grievance. So I understand where he's coming from. But he doesn't know me from a hole in the hill, or I him, for that matter. But I do know the rule book, and I do try to follow it. If one of my players is breaking, got caught, turn the page, try not to get caught."
Johnson said he did not think there would be any gamesmanship carried over into Wednesday night's game, adding, "I'm not speaking for the guru over there. But as far as the league and as far as I'm concerned with, it's just one little issue."
Johnson asked crew chief Tim Tschida to inspect Peralta's glove after the right-hander came in for Rays starter David Price and began throwing warmup pitches prior to the start of the bottom of the eighth. After the umpires gathered around the mound, Peralta's glove was removed and taken over to the Rays' dugout before he was ejected.
Maddon first complimented the job the umpires did in Tuesday night's game.
"I thought, first of all, that the umpires did everything properly," Maddon said. "I thought the umpires handled everything correctly. I was very pleased with that. Tim Tschida and his group were outstanding. Beyond that, this is all in the hands of Major League Baseball, so it's up to them to come to the next conclusion."
Then Maddon's comments became more pointed.
"The last thought that came to my mind would be just looking down the road, if I'm a Major League player that may happen to want to come play for the Nationals in the future, I might think twice about it under the circumstances," he said.
"[Peralta] is one of their former children here who had really performed well, and all of a sudden he's going to come back to this town and they're going to rat on him based on some insider information, insider trading, whatever, so if I'm a Major League player in the very near future to want to come play for the Nationals, I'd have to think twice about it. Those are my conclusions from yesterday."
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, who played for Maddon in 1982 while with Salem, Ore., of the Northwest League, defended Johnson against Maddon's comments.
"Well I don't agree with [what Maddon said]," Rizzo said. "I don't think that's going to faze potential players to come here, because we've got a great thing going here and it's a place that players are going to want to come to and players love playing for Davey Johnson and they will continue to love to play for Davey Johnson and Davey's one of the reasons that we attract players to the Nationals."
Knowing Maddon, Rizzo said he was not surprised by his comments.
"He's fiery," Rizzo said. "He says what he thinks. He's convicted on what he said. And I'm sure if you asked him, he'd stand by it."
And when asked if he agreed with what Johnson did, Rizzo noted: "If Davey were to know about something, an unfair advantage against us, and not say anything about it, I'd be upset at Davey for not saying anything."
Maddon's contention that Johnson had not seen pine tar on Peralta's glove, rather somebody within the organization or on the team had told him, did not matter to Johnson.
"As a hitter, I faced Lew Burdette and Gaylord Perry, and I've asked umpires, 'That fastball acted kind of funny,' and there was nothing they could do about it," Johnson said. "The word out there, and like I said, [we] had heard actually from early in the day and also early in the year, a lot of guys will sometimes put a little pine tar on the string of their glove. That's kind of undetectable. I have no problem with any of that. It's just when I feel it's excessive that I have a problem with it.
"Black hats, you can't see visual evidence. That particular time with Jay Howell, it was very obvious to me. He had a brown glove that was black. I would have been remiss not to [ask the umpires] to check it."
Howell, while pitching for the Dodgers in 1988, used pine tar to get a better grip on the ball in Game 3 of the NLCS against the Mets in wet conditions at Shea Stadium. He was caught and ejected from the game, and given a three-day suspension.
Johnson noted that he didn't want to get in a shouting match with Maddon, and even managed to show a sense of humor.
"I looked him up on the Internet and found out he has a tweeter, so he can get to more people than me," Johnson said. "And so I don't want to get in a shouting match with him. He's got a bigger following. So, but it was interesting reading. But you can tell him I have a doctorate of letters, too. Mine's from Loyola, in humanities, and I'm proud of that, too."
Johnson's tweeter remark prompted Maddon to reply: "Most men have Twitters. I would never use my Twitter to an unfair advantage."
Maddon also offered comment directed toward Johnson's suggestion that Maddon needed to read the rule book.
"I understand that, I totally understand that, Davey's right," Maddon said. "I'm incapable of reading the rule book. And there's also reading between the lines in some situations. And that needs to be looked at too. He's been around long enough. He knows. He knows better than that."
In addition to verbally throwing down with Johnson, Maddon also accused Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine of being "cowardly" earlier in the season when Valentine apparently instructed Franklin Morales to hit Luke Scott with a pitch during the ninth inning of the May 25 game in Boston.
Maddon was asked about his actions in both cases, considering how out of character they were for the laid-back manager.
"I'm defending my guys," Maddon said. "I'm defending my guys. I mean, I'll always defend my guys. Under all circumstances I'll defend my guys. And like I've said, we don't start stuff, but we'll finish stuff."
Peralta spent the 2010 season with the Nationals, appearing in 39 games while compiling a 1-0 record with a 2.02 ERA over 49 innings. Aside from the year he spent in Washington, Peralta also has a connection with Nationals first-base coach Trent Jewett. Prior to being called up to the Majors in 2010, Peralta appeared in 28 games for the Nationals' Triple-A affiliate, the Syracuse Chiefs, when Jewett was the manager.
Peralta, who did not talk to reporters Wednesday, maintained Tuesday night that the glove he was wearing with the pine tar was the one he uses for batting practice.
Pine tar is used to improve the batter's grip so the bat doesn't slip out of their hands. They often apply pine tar to their bats while in the on-deck circle and as they're walking into the batter's box.
Maddon seemed most concerned about Peralta's well-being.
"That's the part," Maddon said. "Joel Peralta is one of the best teammates I've been around in my life. And if you ask any Washington National player that played with him in the past, they'll validate that."
Maddon went on to say that this incident could unfairly brand Peralta as a cheater when all he was guilty of was a practice accepted within the industry of baseball. Now the Rays face the possibility of having to play with a 24-man roster when dealing with Peralta's pending suspension, which could be as long as 10 games.
Johnson, whose tone was calm and defusing throughout his comments, did note that he thought the potential suspension that Peralta faces is unfair.
"I think there could be a suspension of 10 games," Johnson said. "I think that's way too severe. I think just getting thrown out of the game should be enough. Repeat violators, I could see something more severe."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.