This is just too on the nose if you were already predisposed to criticizing Tony La Russa, last a manager ten years ago, for being out of touch with today’s game. Today he sent his closer out to be the free runner at second base in extra innings … even though he did not have to.
In the 9th inning of a tie game, La Russa had his closer, Liam Hendriks, double-switch into the game to get the final out and send the game to extras. Mission accomplished. The problem? Because of the double-switch, Hendriks’ spot in the batting order was the last batter the previous inning … uh oh, that’s the guy who has to run out at second base in extra innings!
EXCEPT! The rule makes an exception in just this situation so that team’s don’t have to do something completely stupid like make a closer go out to run the bases.
EXCEPT! La Russa didn’t know about that part of the rule:
Tony La Russa did not know that he could have used Jose Abreu at second base as the free runner instead of closer Liam Hendriks. Was informed of an amendment to rule by @JRFegan. "I'm guessing you know the rules better. Now I know," he said.
— Daryl Van Schouwen (@CST_soxvan) May 5, 2021
This is what’s on https://t.co/YLJsKuHKXZ’s site about the extra-runner rule. La Russa said they weren’t aware and thought it had to be the previous batter no matter what. Said they wanted García to steal second, rather than it being his own call pic.twitter.com/B2U9qXZkjq
— James Fegan (@JRFegan) May 5, 2021
Hendriks, who did not score in the top of the 10th, came out and immediately gave up back-to-back hits in the bottom of the 10th to lose the game. Oof.
Meanwhile, La Russa’s opponent was quick after the game to pipe up with a, “oh well I knew it”:
David Bell said he knew the rule, "the league made it really clear that it was going to be a new rule in spring training"
— C. Trent Rosecrans (@ctrent) May 5, 2021
Also, where were La Russa’s coaches to tell him what was up? Did nobody know the rule? Just a rough situation all around, especially when paired with the recent reporting about some in the clubhouse already growing impatient with La Russa.