Two clubhouses had very different opinions of third baseman Manny Machado’s slide into second base that injured Dustin Pedroia in the eighth inning of the Orioles’ 2-0 win over the Boston Red Sox on Friday night at Camden Yards.
Inside a heated Red Sox clubhouse, manager John Farrell called foul, saying that Machado slide attempt to break up a double play on Mark Trumbo’s ground ball to shortstop was an “extremely late slide” that violated the slide rule enacted last year to protect middle infielders from injury while attempting to turn double plays.
And in the Orioles clubhouse, Machado insisted that the contact with Pedroia – his right spike lifted after hitting the front of the second base bag and hit the side of Pedroia’s surgically repaired left knee – was unintentional, pointing to the video replay to prove his point.
“Look at the replay,” Machado said. “I tried to everything possible to be safe and get myself in a good position. We know how good they are. You want that cushion. So, wasn’t intentional. I was trying to get on the bag. If you see the replay, you see how my foot comes off the bag and hits him in the calf.
Pedroia was helped off the field and will be re-evaluated Saturday.
“That probably could have been a whole lot worse from what we’re seeing right now in the training room,” Farrell said. “It was an extremely late slide. The argument at the time was if the rule is in place to protect the middle infielder, well then it didn’t work tonight. I know there’s a component to the rule that says he has to deliberately and willfully attempt a double play. When you’re cleaned out behind second base and the runner never held second base completely to me the rule failed tonight.”
Machado, who attempted to grab Pedroia to cushion his fall as he awkwardly fell to the ground, said he sent Pedroia a text message to check on him.
“I mean, once I hit the bag, I came up and instantly. [That’s] when I hit him,” Machado said. “That was one of the reasons I was out because I went to go grab him. You don’t want that to happen. I went and tried to grab him as soon as I can. I know I’m not going to help the situation. The intention wasn’t there. You can just see it.
“I don’t want to wish bad upon nobody,” Machado added. “I don't want to go out there and hurt someone. I know what it is to be in that position. So, this early in the game, we are just trying to do what we can for our team. I’m not going to change the way I play the game. I’m going to keep playing hard and keep doing what I’m doing to try to help my team win. It wasn’t intentional -- just look at the replay. You guys will see it. Me and Pedey go back. I would never want to hurt a guy like that.”
Pedroia worried about the contact made with his left knee, which he received surgery on in this past offseason.
"It's in the side of my [knee],” Pedroia said. “I just got caught in a weird position. I don't know what hit the side of my knee. It pushed it in a little bit. Obviously I'm staying on my rehab stuff and still getting my knee strong from that surgery. It was a different feeling. It worries you at first."
"I feel all right. I just got some treatment. It feels better than when it happened, but I'm all right."
The new slide rule went into effect before last season on the heels of an incident in the 2015 postseason when Chase Utley’s hard slide into second base resulted in New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada's breaking his leg.
The rule defines illegal slides as those in which a runner doesn’t begin his slide before reaching the base, is unable to reach the base with his hand or foot, isn’t able to remain on the base after completion of the slide or changes the pathway of his slide to initiate contact with a fielder.
“I haven’t got a good look at it yet,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “I’d have to look at it. I don’t want to talk about something I don’t know a whole lot about. You guys would have to tell me. I know it’s one of those things that’s really unfortunate. You don’t like to see those things happen. Hopefully, Dustin’s OK.”
The Orioles challenged the call to claim that Pedroia didn’t remain on the bag, but the initial fielder’s choice out stood. Farrell said he wanted interference to be called and asked for a challenge, but was told he couldn’t because Pedroia didn’t initiate the turning the double play.
“We’re going to attempt a double play in almost every circumstance,” Farrell said. “But when you’re blown up on the left-field side of the base, I’d like to see someone else turn that double play. It was a late slide and when you slide past the base, and not hold continual contact, that’s a violation of the rule.”
After the game, Pedroia – who said he hoped to play in Saturday -- said he hadn’t seen a replay of the slide so he couldn’t answer whether he thought it was dirty. He seemed to be more upset about the loss than the slide or any perceived malice by Machado.
"I'm pissed we lost the game,” Pedroia said. "My job is to get taken out and hang in there and turn double plays. That's how you win games. I'm not mad. I'm mad we lost the game. We didn't score any runs. That's what I'm mad about."
"I don't even know what the rule is. I've turned the best double play in the major leagues for 11 years. I don't need the [damn] rule, let's be honest. The rule is irrelevant. The rule is for people with bad footwork, and that's it."
Machado said he wouldn’t be expecting any retaliation by the Red Sox this weekend in the final two games of the series.
“I don’t expect anything,” Machado said. “I’m going to play baseball. What happens, happens. It’s called baseball. We play behind the lines. They’ve got to protect their players. They’ve got to do what they’ve got to do on their side. It’s up to them. I know what I’m going to do over here on this side. I know what I’ve got behind me. It’s 25 guys plus the coaching staff on our side. I’m not expecting anything. I’m going out there and trying to win more ballgames.”