World Series Notebook

Robinson: Managers Should Balk When Pitchers Try to Get Slick

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 24, 2006

ST. LOUIS, Oct. 23 -- The hubbub surrounding what was or wasn't on Kenny Rogers's left hand as he shut out the St. Louis Cardinals over eight innings Sunday night might be unprecedented on such a stage -- Game 2 of the World Series. But think back to June 2005, when Frank Robinson, then the manager of the Washington Nationals, received a tip from Jose Guillen, one of his outfielders, that Los Angeles Angels reliever Brendan Donnelly doctored the ball with pine tar.

Before Donnelly threw a pitch that night, Robinson asked the umpires to check his glove.

"It's not difficult going out there," Robinson said Monday by phone. "It's just a matter of you doing what you have to do for your team, to protect your team. If someone is breaking a rule, I'm not going to sit there in the dugout and watch him do it. If I feel like a rule is being broken, then it's my duty as a manager to correct it."

Sunday night, Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa did not formally ask the umpiring crew to check the left hand of Rogers, who was pitching for the Detroit Tigers. Had he done so, the umpires almost certainly would have checked Rogers for foreign substances. The pitcher would then have been subject to ejection if anything had been discovered.

La Russa defended his decision Monday not to ask the umpires to "undress" Rogers. Former Chicago Cubs manager Dusty Baker said such a decision is "exceptionally hard."

"You don't want to be low-down, on one hand, but you want to abide by the rules on the other," Baker said by phone Monday. "You don't want to go out and accuse someone of something if they're not doing it."

Robinson's accusation against the Angels resulted in Donnelly's ejection -- and eventual suspension -- not to mention a memorable toe-to-toe argument between Robinson and Angels Manager Mike Scioscia. There is some thought that La Russa didn't take a more aggressive tack because he is close with Tigers Manager Jim Leyland. La Russa denied that Monday, but Robinson said there is a growing "code" in baseball that allows people to get away with things because so many people are friends.

"What is starting to happen in baseball, there are starting to be unwritten codes, kind of a buddy-buddy, friendly-type of code," Robinson said. "Lots of guys have played with each other or coached with each other, and they don't want to upset anybody. It doesn't belong in baseball. It doesn't belong in sports, period."

A Gap for Robertson

Nate Robertson, the Tigers' starter in Game 3 Tuesday night, hasn't pitched since Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, which will be two weeks between starts. Robertson, who pitched five scoreless innings against Oakland in his last start, didn't seem concerned about the layoff. Leyland, however, is.

"I don't know what to expect from Nate tomorrow night, I really don't," Leyland said. "I think I'm going to get a good performance, but you really never know for sure." . . .

Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter was with St. Louis when the Cardinals made the 2004 World Series, but was injured and didn't pitch in the postseason. Carpenter, 4-1 with a 2.98 ERA in seven postseason starts, will make his first World Series appearance Tuesday. "It's a great feeling, a childhood dream," he said.

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