Baltimore Orioles Executive Vice President for Player Personnel Jim Beattie stirred up a controversy by making a simple procedural phone call to the commissioner's office regarding Boston Red Sox special assignment instructor Johnny Pesky being in the Red Sox' dugout.
Because of Beattie's call, the 85-year-old Pesky, a beloved figure in Boston who has spent most of his 60-plus years in baseball with the Red Sox organization, was barred from being in the dugout during games. Beattie said a member of his staff noticed several weeks ago that Pesky had been in the Red Sox' dugout, possibly in violation of MLB rules.
"We just made an inquiry to see if he was allowed in the dugout," Beattie said. "There was a discussion about this issue at the GM meeting last year. We had a special procedure put in place to have special individuals in the dugout."
Beattie said that Pesky could have been allowed in the dugout had the Red Sox petitioned the commissioner's office.
"We found out they had not," Beattie said.
The banishment, which was first enforced last weekend while the Red Sox played the New York Yankees at Fenway Park, upset Red Sox players, outraged fans and hurt Pesky. People assumed the rival Yankees had made the call to the commissioner's office. But instead, it was the Orioles, who will start a four-game series against the Red Sox on Friday.
"It had nothing to do with Johnny Pesky," Beattie said. "I'm from New England. I love Johnny Pesky. It had to do with the Red Sox not following the rules. We all have to live by the same rules. We get the same scrutiny."
Beattie -- who grew up in South Portland, Maine -- denied the request to have Pesky barred had anything to do with the team's displeasure last week when the Red Sox asked umpires to check pitcher Rodrigo Lopez's cap. Beattie said that while he thought Boston asking to check Lopez's cap was upsetting and a blatant move to distract the pitcher, he was more upset that umpires went along with the request.
"With what happened with Rodrigo, we're not upset at the Red Sox," Beattie said. "We're upset at the process. This is completely different with that."
Baltimore's involvement in barring Pesky from the dugout could turn out to be embarrassing for Baltimore Manager Lee Mazzilli, who vehemently denied several times his team's involvement.
"I wouldn't do that to that guy," Mazzilli said.
Mazzilli said he had too much respect for Pesky, whom he considers a close friend, to ask for him to be banned and was upset at even being asked about Orioles' involvement. The Orioles' manager said he makes it a point to approach Pesky each time the two are on the same field. Mazzilli, when asked if it was possible that anybody else in the organization could have made the complaint, said any decision relating to that would have to go through him.
When reached by phone, Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein said he had no comment.
Orioles Notes: With Tuesday's game being rained out, the Orioles decided to push Daniel Cabrera's start until Saturday. Bruce Chen will pitch the first game of Wednesday's doubleheader starting at 3:05 p.m. and Rick Bauer, in his first start since August 2002, will pitch the second game. Cabrera will pitch the first game of Saturday's day-night doubleheader against the Red Sox and Sidney Ponson will pitch the nightcap. . . .
Mazzilli met with team management on Tuesday to discuss his team's performance. "We spent a couple hours talking about the club," Beattie said. No mention was made of Mazzilli's or his coaches' status for next season. "It's just talking about players," Beattie said.