Tigers upset with Rasmus for takeout slide
Infante injures shin on play; benches warned after Hunter hit by pitch
TORONTO -- The Tigers breathed a sigh of relief when they found out Omar Infante sustained only a bruised shin in Wednesday's 6-2 win over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. They were still breathing fire about the slide that caused it.
"That play, I don't think he needs to slide into me like that," Infante said of Colby Rasmus' attempt to break up a potential double play in the fourth inning. "I think that's dirty. That's a dirty play."
X-rays taken on Infante's leg were negative. He will not play in Thursday's series finale, but it's unclear how much time Infante could miss after that. He said he'll wait and see how he feels Thursday.
Manager Jim Leyland, likely mindful of the controversy that came out of his reaction to Fernando Rodney's pitch inside on Miguel Cabrera on Saturday at Tampa Bay, stayed out of it.
"I don't have any comment," Leyland said.
Several of Infante's teammates, however, were still fuming about it after the game. Torii Hunter said it was the main reason he reacted strongly to being hit by a Todd Redmond pitch in the sixth, causing both benches to clear and leading to warnings for both dugouts.
"I'm here to win. You take away somebody like that that's very important to our ballclub, I'm upset," Hunter said. "I'm a veteran guy. I want to win. It ain't about stats. It ain't about selfishness. I want to win. And when you take out a guy dirty like that, I'm upset."
Max Scherzer, even as he basked in becoming baseball's first 13-0 pitcher in 27 years, went a step further.
"If MLB can look at me and judge whether I hit [a batter intentionally] and I should get a suspension, well, can't MLB look at him and judge he should get a suspension," Scherzer said.
Rasmus, however, said he did nothing out of the ordinary.
"That's their thought on it," he said when told of the Tigers' reactions. "There's nothing different than I ever do, I feel like. I go in hard every time and my intention is never to hurt anybody or anything like that. I was taught that early in this game and that's how I play. I didn't mean for anything bad to happen, but it's no different than any time I come in."
Infante, who had eight hits over his previous three games to raise his average to .311 on the season, took a toss from shortstop Jhonny Peralta on a ground ball from Rajai Davis. Rasmus, who was on first base after taking a hit by pitch at his feet on a slider, came in to try to break up the double play.
On the slide, Rasmus' knee slammed into Infante's shin as the second baseman tried to get off a throw to first. Replay suggested Rasmus didn't go out of the baseline to make the hard slide, though he arguably slid in late as he hit the bag and continued past it.
Tigers players also saw the replay in the clubhouse. Between the mechanics of the slide and the situation, they took exception.
"We're really mad about that slide," Scherzer said. "That's a very dirty play in my book. You watch it on replay, he's spikes-up, he's sliding late. ...
"Rajai Davis is running [to first] there. He's going to be safe at first. You're most likely not going to turn two there. There's no reason to slide in like that. That's why I said I feel like he should be suspended. Obviously, our nature is we want to retaliate, but when we retaliate, we get suspended."
Rasmus has a history of hard slides at second, so the effort to break up the double play wasn't out of the ordinary.
"I just treated it like any other time when I'm on first base," Rasmus said. "Rajai hit a ground ball, so I was coming in hard trying to break up the double play. Nothing was different."
Infante said Rasmus caught him in the shin and the ankle. Rasmus said he thought he caught Infante around the cleats or ankle.
Infante stayed on the ground after being toppled, making it to his knees but struggling to get up from there. He tried walking it off once head athletic trainer Kevin Rand helped him up, but was clearly still in pain. Rand and assistant athletic trainer Steve Carter helped him limp off the field.
"I was worried that it was cartilage or meniscus," Leyland said, "but it's not. When I saw the area where [the bruise] was, I was relieved. Obviously, it's sore, and he got it pretty good, but it's not like torn cartilage or meniscus or anything like that."
Ramon Santiago replaced Infante at second base. Infante returned to the Tigers' clubhouse after the game, walking around on crutches.
Infante said he understood Rasmus' desire to break it up, but not the way he went about it.
"I know you come in to break up a double play, but not like that," Infante said. "That's too much. I know some players play hard and some players don't think about another player, but that slide, that's dirty. I mean, that's too much."