Hurdle criticizes players’ decisions
PITTSBURGH — Managers go to great lengths to protect their players.
This time, though, Clint Hurdle knew it was futile to try to defend the poor judgment used by two of his players in Monday’s 3-0 loss to Milwaukee.
Catcher Elias Diaz was thrown out by a wide margin when he tried to stretch a double into three bases.
Gregory Polanco topped that when he made the game’s final out at second base, cut down while foolishly attempting to turn a single into a double.
Neither player was representing the tying or go-ahead run, so the risk wasn’t worth it. These decisions couldn’t be excused in the name of hustle.
They were wrong, and costly.
“They’re unacceptable plays at this level,” Hurdle said. “At the end of the day, those aren’t good baseball plays and those aren’t plays that are going to help your team win. They know that after the fact, (but) you need to know that before the fact. And those are the ways we reinforce it, and we’ll talk about it.”
Presumably Hurdle discussed the poor judgment with both players behind closed doors before Tuesday’s game.
It’s not unusual for Hurdle to review something with a player, although he generally doesn’t talk about it publically.
A manager has to handle a variety of personalities, and he has to make sure he can communicate effectively.
For Hurdle, that generally means a calm approach that gets his message across.
“Confrontation can be nothing but healthy,” he said. “Confrontation can be empowering. Positive. Sharing ideas is what confrontation is.”
Hurdle had a brief and quiet conversation with Polanco in the dugout after the game on Monday. If anybody was looking for a high-volume fit by the manager, they were probably disappointed.
“Both of them showed very poor judgment last night,” Hurdle said. “So you sit them down, say what did you see, what did you think, what did you feel? We have to be better than that. If we’re going to be a championship club, we can’t do that. Those are mistakes that can’t be made at this level.
“I think there are times when you can show emotion, without a doubt. But I’m going to start yelling at people because so-and-so said I should? You don’t know what I do most of the time. You know what you see. That is not 24-7. Some of it is none of their business.
“I continue to try to share truth with raw honesty sometimes. Sometimes it’s your delivery. I know what I would do when I thought I got yelled at a little too much, and I know what players do. It makes sense. You know when to use it when it’s appropriate. But yelling? No. Never. That’s about me yelling, not about me teaching. It’s about belittling somebody, and that’s something I’m not a big fan of.”
Third baseman Jung Ho Kang was interviewed by a Korean news service, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published some translations of that coverage.
Kang has been absent all season, unable to secure a work visa to enter the country after his third DUI conviction. When Kang’s car was pulled over, he tried to flee, then incorrectly told police someone else was actually driving.
“Something like that must never happen again, and I am trying to be a better man,” Kang told the Korean news source, according to the Post-Gazette.
(Mehno can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org)