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A weird injury on an all-around weird play

Associated Press
Published September 16, 2005


BOSTON - Tony Graffanino's first instinct was to help his injured teammate. That would have been the worst thing for him to do.

"I knew I couldn't pass him, but at the same time I was worried for him," he said Thursday, a day after Gabe Kapler tore his Achilles' tendon circling the bases on Graffanino's homer. "I just had to freeze and wait, 10 feet away. I've never seen it before."

Few have.

Kapler was on first base when Graffanino homered in the fifth inning of Boston's 5-3 victory over Toronto on Wednesday night. Unsure that the ball would clear the wall, Kapler was running full-speed around second when he crumpled.

Graffanino stopped before passing him and the umpires called time. According to baseball rule 5.10 (c) (1), the Red Sox were allowed to insert a pinch-runner mid play.

That brought Alejandro Machado, a 23-year-old September callup who had never been on base in the majors, off the bench to score his first big-league run.

"It was exciting, but we were worried about Kapler," he said at his temporary locker Thursday.

Kapler was in the clubhouse with a cast covering his left leg to the knee as his teammates lined up to console him; he will miss the rest of the season.

"I think you could tell by the looks on the players' faces he's a huge loss to this team," general manager Theo Epstein said. "He got hurt doing what he does best, which is hustling."

The Red Sox were one of a handful of teams getting a spring training lecture called "Ruleball," in which author and consultant Rich Marazzi helps teams prepare for unconventional situations that can come up in games.

"It's different situations where you could use the rules to your advantage if you know the rules better than the umpires," Epstein said.

The examples covered players falling into the stands or running into the dugouts. One situation was in the 2003 AL playoffs, when Oakland's Miguel Tejada was called out after thinking he could take a free base on an obstruction call.

Boston manager Terry Francona was an A's coach at the time - in charge of baserunning - so he wasn't too eager to relive the moment.

"After being out in the hot sun all day, some of it was more interesting than others," he said.

Francona said he already knew the rule involved in Wednesday's play. But Graffanino was stumped.

"I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do," he said.

The Red Sox purchased the contract of outfielder Adam Hyzdu from Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday and unconditionally released left-hander Matt Perisho.

THE RULE

BASEBALL RULE 5.10 (C) (1): "If an accident to a runner is such as to prevent him from proceeding to a base to which he is entitled, as on a home run hit out of the playing field, or an award of one or more bases, a substitute runner shall be permitted to complete the play."