clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Following up: Rick Renteria’s bunt defense lacking

New, 32 comments

Plus: Tommy Kahnle gets support from his teammates after outside attack

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Los Angeles Angels Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Unlike his explanation for hanging with Mike Pelfrey two batters too long, Rick Renteria’s depiction of Wednesday’s ninth-inning three-bunt pile-up left a lot to be desired. From Colleen Kane.

Renteria said he thought Saladino's safety-squeeze attempt was "actually pretty good," but he thought Willy Garcia could have positioned himself better to score next to third baseman Luis Valbuena.

"As I looked at the play more, Willy could have done a little better job of coming off with Valbuena once he saw Sally was squaring and Valbuena was coming down," Renteria said. "Since you have the third baseman coming along with you, it gives you a chance to get back without getting picked off.

I’d rank Garcia’s role in the mess a distant third behind the idea to bunt, which gets the first two spots. Omar Narvaez’s multiple bunt flashes prior to his walk only heightened the alert for Saladino’s, which was made clear when the Angels had their choice about whether the pitcher or first baseman would do the easy flip home. That made it less than a “pretty good” bunt and not worth trying.

Moreover, even if it were Garcia’s fault, then the plan was flawed for relying on him so heavily, because baserunning is not his strong suit. He wasted no time establishing this in the majors.

He was the victim of a similarly poor decision in Charlotte during the weekend I watched him, which jibed with his scouting report and prompted me to express concern before Saladino’s bunt:

What Renteria said is probably right, in that Garcia could have gotten an extra step or two on his jump. Unfortunately, that would only take care of half the steps Garcia was out by. If Garcia needed to make up more than that, then it would require 1) better snap judgment than Garcia can be counted upon to show, and/or 2) faith in a guy that popped out bunting in the same situation the series before. Both elements make it a bad call before Saladino squared around.

This isn’t an anti-bunt screed — though it very well could be. I didn’t like seeing Tim Anderson bunt Garcia to third with nobody on, but I understood it on the assumption that the White Sox intended to get the ball to the outfield afterward, and it might compel Mike Scioscia to overreact along the way. When Narvaez shrank the infield and Saladino still played to it, it made the small-balling even more self-defeating than it often is.

After watching LaTroy Hawkins go out of his way to besmirch the character of Latham’s Tommy Kahnle during a Twins-Rockies broadcast on Tuesday, I figured it stemmed from one of three possibilities:

  1. Maybe Hawkins is right.
  2. Maybe Kahnle didn’t stay in a rookie lane.
  3. Maybe Hawkins and Kahnle had an isolated beef and Hawkins can’t let it go.

When asked about it, the White Sox took No. 1 off the board with vigor. Derek Holland, the team’s new orator from Ohio, issued the most inspired defense:

“I just don’t like the fact of somebody being singled out like that and it wasn’t even talked about,” Holland said. “Listening to the interview and stuff, it already looked awkward enough when he mentioned it because they didn’t care. They weren’t trying to talk about that because it’s not what it’s about. But I have respect for (Hawkins). He’s been around the game forever. He definitely accomplished a lot, obviously more than I have. But it’s just one of those things that I think he could have handled that a lot better than he did, but it’s just kind of how it is. I’ve got Tommy’s back. I know how Tommy is a good person and like I said, everybody in this clubhouse has his back and we’ll back him up on that.”

Based on what David Robertson said, Nos. 2 and 3 remain in play:

“No he’s not a bad teammate,’’ fellow reliever David Robertson said. “He’s by far the loudest teammate I’ve had. But he’s not a bad guy. He’s just loud. Kind of like a kid trapped inside a 250-pound muscular body.’’

Whatever the case, Kahnle himself didn’t have much to add. The Chicago Tribune’s video ends with him saying, “I don’t have social media, so...” which makes the guy Renteria calls “Tommy Boy” wise beyond his years.