Monday’s 10-4 loss to the Minnesota Twins was unsettling on many different levels. The Sox wasted a rare opportunity to steal a win against Johan Santana due to a few timely infield hits and some shakey Sox bullpen work.
But the most unnerving aspect of the Sox meltdown was the way Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was allowed to questionably accuse A.J. Pierzynski of intentionally trying to injure Justin Morneau while running out a double-play ball. Not only did the umpires not do anything to discipline Gardenhire for tirade, which required the other three umpires to restrain him from the first base umpire. But no one in the Sox dugout seemed to step up to defend their much-maligned catcher from these accusations.
After the delay and the Memorial Day tribute, the Twins fueled off Gardenhire’s outburst and scored five runs while the Sox appeared a bit shellshocked throughout the remainder of the game.
In looking at the replays, it doesn’t appear that Pierzynski made any contact at all with the leg of Morneau. At the very most, he grazed his calf with his leg. After the game, Pierzynski talked things out with both Gardenhire and Morneau, both of whom were satisfied with his explanation. This is probably because it wasn’t something that should have required explanation. Due to a less than perfect turn by second baseman Luis Castillo, the play at first was close and Pierzynski put his head down to try to beat the throw. But the idea that Pierzynski was intentionally trying to step on Morneau’s foot makes no sense.
The fact that Guillen didn’t rush out to stand up for his catcher leads me to wonder if the two have really put their Mike North radio squabble behind them. While A.J. has done plenty over course of his career to damage his public image as far as off-field relationships go, he hasn’t done anything to earn the reputation of a dirty player that would intentionally try to injure the reigning league MVP. But if his relationship with Guillen and some of his teammates is strained in other areas, it’s conceivable to understand why the Sox dugout wasn’t screaming from the dugout in his defense.
Pierzynski and the Twins have talked and made up about yesterday’s incident. However, I think A.J. needs to focus more on repairing the relationships within his own clubhouse from here on out. If this team has any hope of returning to the postseason this year, they need to recapture that “us against the world” mentality that they had in 2005. Right now, there are too many internal forces working against each other to develop this kind of unity.