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Zim, Maddon surprised at Girardi’s stance

Posted Mar 9, 2008 by Marc Lancaster

Updated Mar 10, 2008 at 10:12 AM

Don Zimmer has known Joe Girardi a long time and said the Yankee manager is “like a son” to him, but the Rays senior adviser was “dumbfounded” when he read Girardi’s criticism of Rays infielder Elliot Johnson for barreling into Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli at home plate in yesterday’s game. Cervelli suffered a fractured wrist on the play and Girardi blasted Johnson and the Rays for playing aggressively in a spring training game.

“The plate was blocked and our guy bowled him over. What’s that got to do with spring training? That’s the way to play the game,” Zimmer said this morning. “I mean, I’m talking about a guy that’s like a son to me, but I can’t believe he went after it the way he did, because that’s not Joe Girardi – and being a catcher on top of it.

“If I slide into him and I break a leg, nothing’s said, so rather than break my leg I bowl him over and it’s not the right play? To me, it’s the right play when the plate’s being blocked, spring training or no spring training. Play the game the right way. To me, our kid played it the way he thought was right and I think it was right.”

Rays manager Joe Maddon stuck to his guns this morning, reiterating that he thought it was a “good, hard baseball play,” and initially seemed inclined to try and defuse the situation.

“I was a little bit surprised [by Girardi’s comments],” said Maddon. “I answered it the way I wanted to answer it and I just want to let it set right there. This does not deserve any legs. There was an issue that occurred yesterday in the game it was a hard baseball play, the issue was based on whether you should do that in spring training or not. So it’s a philosophical difference.”

When it was mentioned that the teams will see each other a few more times this year, Maddon jumped in.

“All year, absolutely,” he said. “If we have a chance and we have to hit a catcher, we should, and if they have a chance to take out one of our catchers, they should. That’s the way the game’s played. If it’s the appropriate play to be made, make it. Period.”

Asked whether he planned to discuss the matter with Girardi, this was Maddon’s response:

“Honestly, I really haven’t even thought about that,” said Maddon. “I like the guy, I like Joe, I’ve always liked Joe. If he would like to have a conversation, God, I’d like to talk about politics, I’m good with global warming, I’m good with a lot of different topics on a daily basis. I like iTunes, I download some stuff off iTunes, I like different restaurants, I like red wine. I have a lot of different areas I can go conversationally.”

Something tells me this conversation will be ongoing over the next six and a half months…

Real quick, on today’s game…here are the lineups:

Johnson 2B
Zobrist LF
Upton CF
Gomes DH
Aybar 3B
Richard 1B
Navarro C
Ruggiano RF
Brignac SS
Jackson P

Also scheduled to pitch: Percival, Wheeler, Glover, Sonnanstine, Talbot

Ryan Freel CF
Norris Hopper LF
Jay Bruce RF
Joey Votto 1B
Jolbert Cabrera 3B
Jeff Keppinger SS
Chris Kroski C
Juan Castro 2B
Ryan Hannigan DH
Matt Belisle P

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