Desperate Times Calls for Different Methods

A rumor that was started by The Score 670 AM, indicating that Jerry Manuel's job is in jeopardy, was quickly labeled false by GM Kenny Williams. Williams said Manuel's job security is no different than last year, which is when he said Manuel will be with the Sox through at least 2003. But I beg to differ, because Manuel's managing style has changed quite a bit in the last week, kind of like he's doing it out of desperation.

Let us look at the transformation Manuel has done in the last week.

> Manuel has let Tom Gordon pitch three times this week, two of which he threw two-plus innings. He's developed more of a "if a guy is going good, leave him in" type attitude, as opposed to his usual "keep relievers ready for the next day" strategy. Kelly Wunsch, a reliever he's historically used for one batter, has faced 15 batters in his last four outings (4 1/3 innings).

>Manuel has taken two save opportunities away from closer Billy Koch this week, giving them to Damaso Marte. The first came Sunday against the Twins. Up 3-1, Manuel decided to have Marte pitch both the eighth and ninth innings, instead of going with the usual Marte/Koch, eighth/ninth tandem. Then on Thursday, Manuel pulls Koch from a ninth-inning save situation with two outs and two men on. Koch issued a walk, single and two hard-hit fly balls in the inning. Manuel pulled Koch before he even gave up a run and let Marte record the final out.

>Manuel has called for two hit-and-runs, but even better, he had Brian Daubach steal home plate. It all happened as Carlos Lee tried to steal second, so when Twins catcher A.J. Pierzynski made the throw, Daubach took off for home.

>Along with hit-and-runs and stealing home, Manuel had Tony Graffanino and Jose Valentin lay down back-to-back bunts on Thursday night. Graffanino's went for a single, while Valentin's was done simply to advance the runners.

>Manuel argued two calls this week -- both at first base -- and actually was thrown out after one of them. The first one came Sunday, the day after the bench clearing brawl with the Twins, with the second coming in the A's series. A suprise burst of energy from a man who showed none whatsoever on April 23, when umpire Eric Cooper called Joe Crede's home run down the left field line foul.

>For the first time this season Manuel actually let Bartolo Colon throw more than 110 pitches (115).

>Manuel switched the struggling Paul Konerko with Carlos Lee in the order after sitting Konerko back-to-back games. He also sat D'Angelo Jimenez -- another cold bat -- two straight games, starting Graffanino instead.

>Koch wasn't the only person Manuel put in check this week. Over the weekend, Manuel said Rowand will have up through the A's series -- where he faced three straight lefties -- to shape up. The series came, Rowand went 2-9 and found himself heading to Charlotte, with Willie Harris taking his place. Jon Garland also given a warning, which he reacted to with another poor outing. Danny Wright is set to make his fourth, and last, rehab start on Friday down in Charlotte, while Josh Stewart is scheduled to start Saturday. Their outings could land Garland in Charlotte.

>Finally, in Wednesday's fog-filled game, Manuel asked for a second fog delay in the top of the fifth, after the A's took a 1-0 lead. A good move on Manuel's part. With A's lefty Mark Mulder pitching lights out and the fog holding its own, Manuel didn't want to risk the game going five innings and have the game called.

So whether Manuel is on the hot seat or not, he's managing like a coach in desperation, which leads to a change in method.

Sox Hardball Top Stories