No, Ron Washington and the Rangers did not work on the slash play

April 17, 2012 - 2:26 pm

On the first official workout day of spring training, Bobby Valentine had his pitchers engage in a most unusual task. He said that the Rangers lost the World Series because pitcher Colby Lewis -- the starter for Texas on Tuesday night at Fenway Park against the Red Sox -- could not pull back on a sacrifice bunt attempt and enact a "slash play," with a swing meant to bounce a ball past a charging infielder. Instead, Lewis bunted into a double play in the early innings of Game 6 of the World Series, and Valentine felt that the Rangers thus lost the World Series for the pitcher's inability to execute a play, since the double play bunt cost Texas a run, Game 6 ended up being tied through nine innings and ultimately the Rangers suffered an unfathomable defeat in extra innings. So, with that memory fresh, Valentine decided to have his pitchers practice the slash play on the first day of spring training. Valentine said at the time that he thought the Red Sox pitchers "want to be the world champions, so I just thought if they could work on a fundamental, a technique now of bunting and slashing, then in that time before interleague play where we get them to come out and practice, they can have already had a foundation of what they might be asked to do and then again, if it'€™s before the playoffs and they'€™re doing it again, they just build on that foundation." (More on Valentine's introduction of the slash play to Red Sox spring training is here.) The Red Sox prioritized the play that Valentine said cost the Rangers the World Series. But, it seemed fair to wonder, did the Rangers? Asked about whether he thought about the value of the slash play when Lewis bunted into the double play, Washington chuckled. He mentioned that over the course of a baseball game, there were innumerable moments where, if the play had been executed slightly differently, the outcome of a contest would have changed completely. But Washington did not rue Lewis' failed bunt, and he did not alter how he conducted spring training as a result of that one specific play. "Being in the American League, I don'€™t like to see my guys swinging at balls. It'€™s easier to hurt yourself. In spring training, I try not to let them swing. If it'€™s a bunt situation [in a game], I let them go up and bunt, but if they go up there and nobody'€™s on the bag, I'€™ll make them take," said Washington. "That'€™s just me. everyone does things differently, but no, I don'€™t work on the slash. "You try to cover everything," he added. "That'€™s one thing that Bobby feels like he needs to cover. That'€™s not something that I made a priority. My priority with my pitchers is fielding their positions and throwing to bags, and they'€™re pretty [expletive] good at that. [The slash is] an advantage they can probably have if they can do it, but that wasn'€™t a priority of mine."