I give Richard Justice a lot of grief. But there are times when I think he's right, and yesterday, I think he was right. And he was right about something that's been bugging me for three years and which nearly cost the Astros a baseball game last night.
As we're all aware, Carlos Lee has rarely been known to go above a jog, either when "chasing" a fly ball in left field or running down to first on a ground ball. Wednesday night, Lee went into his walk-down-the-line routine on a grounder again, only to get thrown out on a play where he should have been safe because the fielder juggled the ball and the throw barely beat him to the bag. Justice has had enough of this, and he lets Lee have it.
Lots of the readers agree with Justice's post. But there are some defenders. And they talk about his injured hamstring, and how he's playing hurt. And they note that the broadcast crew was talking about Lee having to be careful so that he didn't get hurt more than he was. For what it's worth, I think Justice is right. Lee running full-speed healthy and Lee running full-speed "hurt" look to be the same.
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Then there's last night's game. In the top of the first, Tejada and Lee get on base. There's a wild pitch. Tejada easily makes it to third, Lee loafs into second, at which point Jim Deshaies immediately starts talking about Lee barely being able to move on the bases because of his hamstring. Then in the top of the sixth, Lee was on third base when Kaz Matsui hit a ball in the hole between first and second. Ranger second baseman Ian Kinsler fielded the ball and ran toward first because neither the first basemen nor pitcher were in position for his throw. Matsui was barely safe at first.
During this time, Lee stood at third base. Even before offering up the Lee hamstring excuse, Deshaies stated that he should have scored on the play. Then Deshaies goes on about how tough a job it is for third base coach Dave Clark because he's got to figure out how to get Lee to score. And it ends up that Lee stays at third the rest of the inning as the team fails to score, leaving the score tied at three. Luckily, Lee's teammates bailed him out in the later innings and the Astros ended up winning 5-3.
Now I don't care if Lee is loafing, or if he is injured. If he can't score from third, he shouldn't be in the game. I know the thing is that he's not supposed to run the bases, but that he's just supposed to hit home runs and jog around the bases. But if he's healthy, he's got to at least show some effort like the rest of his teammates, and if he's not healthy, he shouldn't be out there, especially if there's a worry that he's going to further injure himself running to home plate.
Astros management doesn't care what Justice thinks, and they definitely don't care what I think. And frankly, I really don't think Carlos Lee gives a damn about we think either.