A's minor league coach banned for intentional balks

July 3, 2012, 3:38 pm
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Chalk this one up as something not seen too often or ever in professional baseball.Oakland As roving hitting coach Todd Steverson was bannedfrom being in the dugout for a class-A California League game after heinstructed his pitchers to intentionally balk to help end a game that hadreached the 17th inning.Steverson, who was the acting manager for the Stockton Portsbecause the regular manager was on vacation, had his pitcher Josh Whitaker, anoutfielder who came in to pitch after the Ports had burned through theirbullpen, issue balks to Modesto Nuts players.Whitaker intentionally balked twice in the 17thinning to move runners into scoring position. When that failed to end the game,he balked again in the 18th, helping the Nuts finally get the winand wrap up the contest.Steverson admitted the balks were intentional and defendedhis actions by saying he wanted to protect his players from injury.We had a position player out there, and I didnt want toput another position player on the mound and get him hurt, Steverson said. Ididnt get any of my pitchers hurt and I didnt get any position players hurt.So a game on June 23, 2012, well, these guys will be playing many more gamesmore important than that.Steversons candidness proved to be what cost him as theCalifornia League banned him for a year following the interview. It wontaffect Steverson too much as managing the Ports is not his regular job.Still, its hard to criticize Steversons decision too muchgiven that the As primary concern with its class-A squad is not winningballgames but developing future Major Leaguers. For a manager to value thehealth of his players over a regular-season win in a developmental leaguedoesnt seem that absurd.The California League saw it differently.While Stockton Interim Manager Todd Steversons intent wasto protect his players from injury, California League president Charlie Blaneysaid in a statement, Steversons decision to advance opposing teams baserunners into scoring position compromised the integrity of the game.Although Blaneys reaction is understandable, he mustrecognize that the clubs in his league dont view winning as their main goal.The As certainly wont hang their hat on how many ballgames the Ports win andprobably dont have too much of a problem with Steversons decision.Maybe next time hes faced with this situation, Steversonwill opt to just have his pitchers throw walks and wild pitches to end the gamemore discreetly.

Colin Becht is an intern with CSNBayArea.com and a senior at Northwestern University

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