• Shane Spencer Heard About A-Rod Tipping Pitches?

    Posted by on May 1st, 2009 · Comments (20)

    Ted Keith, over at S.I., has a great feature up where he talks to R.A. Dickey, Doug Glanville and Shane Spencer – who were with the Rangers when Alex Rodriguez was there – about the claim that A-Rod tipped pitches for friends. Here’s a snip:

    Shane Spencer, though, was not surprised. Spencer came to the Rangers from the Indians in a July 2003 trade and it wasn’t long after his arrival that he began hearing whispers in his new, divided clubhouse about Rodriguez. “It was brought up. I overheard it but not from specific people,” said Spencer, now a coach with the high Class-A Lake Elsinore (Calif.) Storm. “I think I overheard it in our clubhouse, but that team was really split up — a bunch of groups of threes and fours. It wasn’t a real close clubhouse and guys start talking especially when you’re getting your butt kicked everyday. I remember hearing that.”

    The journeyman outfielder said that while he never saw or heard of other players doing that, he wouldn’t have been surprised if Rodriguez wasn’t the only one doing so. “I’m sure it does happen. There are friends of friends. I’m sure there are catchers out there that have told guys what’s coming. Hopefully it didn’t happen [in Texas] and hopefully it didn’t happen that often.”

    In a phone interview with SI.com, [Selena] Roberts said that over the course of a couple years, some people with the Rangers began to detect a pattern whereby Rodriguez would appear to be giving away pitch type and location to hitters, always middle infielders who would then be able to repay him in kind when he was at the plate, with his body movement. According to Roberts’ sources, “If it was a changeup, he would twist his glove hand. To indicate a slider, he would sweep the dirt in front of him and he would bend in the direction of where the pitch was going to be, inside or outside.” Roberts’ sources stressed that this only occurred in games that had long since been decided and was done for “slump insurance. You can count on your buddy to help break you out of your slump. There was no intent to throw a game or change the outcome.”

    Glanville suggested that perhaps A-Rod’s mannerisms that led to suspicion were actually a way to alert his fellow defenders what pitch was coming next, something the shortstop often does during a game. But Roberts’ sources said that the key difference is when Rodriguez would signal. “The thing Alex would do, and this is the critical difference between signaling your infield as quarterback and giving away the pitch to the hitter, is when you flash the sign. This was done to give the batter plenty of time to see it and figure what to do about it. What would usually happen would be for Alex to do something as the pitcher is in the windup; that way the batter is focused on the pitcher. These signs Alex would flash came before the windup and that made it even more noticeable.”

    Interesting stuff. And, you can bet that someone (MLB?) who has access to video tape of blow-out games for the Rangers, played during the time Alex Rodriguez was there, will be checking this all out, soon, to see if there’s anything to these claims. It’s just a matter of time…

    Comments on Shane Spencer Heard About A-Rod Tipping Pitches?

    1. nettles
      May 1st, 2009 | 2:10 am

      Tipping pitches is worse than the ‘roids, in my book. Wonder how many Yankee pitchers he’s screwed over the years? No one is ever going to trust this guy again (assuming anyone does now).

    2. nettles
      May 1st, 2009 | 2:11 am

      Well, its late, and I’m realizing it’s probably hard to tip pitches from third base, so I’ll just shut my yap about that now. But he’s still a jerk, so there. :/

    3. butchie22
      May 1st, 2009 | 7:08 am

      nettles wrote:

      Tipping pitches is worse than the ‘roids, in my book. Wonder how many Yankee pitchers he’s screwed over the years? No one is ever going to trust this guy again (assuming anyone does now).

      Yeah, this is on an other level from steroids. This is my last straw with this headcase if this is true. What possesses a person that has such an inordinate amount of talent to act this way: screw around on his wife, have an affair with aged ,trannie-like Madonna, play illicit poker games etc so forth. His legacy is already screwed BUT this garbage effects the team off the field. It’s funny how Posada didn’t think anything was funny about that Tampa Bay blowout where Swisher pitched. Yeah, Swisher goofing around and taking one for the team was not acceptable, unh? I wonder what Posada and Jeter will say to Arod about all this?

    4. MJ
      May 1st, 2009 | 8:34 am

      screw around on his wife, have an affair with aged ,trannie-like Madonna, play illicit poker games
      ——-
      Stupidest thing I’ve ever read. Why do those things matter and what makes you think A-Rod’s the only one that cheats on his wife or plays high-stakes card games. Do you know who Michael Jordan is? Ever heard of Mickey Mantle?

    5. deadrody
      May 1st, 2009 | 9:56 am

      So let me get this straight. Three fringe ML players that barely made the team in Texas for less than a full season during one season, these are the damning witnesses in this case ? Nothing from established players on that team like Teixeira, Blalock or Michael Young ? Or how about the two guys that made 30+ starts for them – John Thomson or Colby Lewis ?

      Color me unconvinced.

    6. deadrody
      May 1st, 2009 | 9:58 am

      BTW, for anyone that has ever played the game, the idea that the SS could tip pitches to the hitter during the windup is a bit far fetched. The hitter needs to pick a spot on the pitcher and look for the ball to come out. Pick his hat for convenience. Focus on that spot, out comes the ball, focus on that.

      You really think it serves a hitter well to look away from the place the ball is coming from, focus on the SS, process the sign from the SS, and then re-focus on the ball that has probably already come out ?

      Doubt it.

    7. lisaswan
      May 1st, 2009 | 10:07 am

      Why didn’t this SI writer interview Buck Showalter? We all know what a micromanager he was. If Buck says it happened, I will believe it. But I don’t believe, given the attention to detail he was known for, that A-Rod would have been doing such a thing without him knowing about it.

    8. Corey
      May 1st, 2009 | 10:22 am

      BTW, for anyone that has ever played the game, the idea that the SS could tip pitches to the hitter during the windup is a bit far fetched. The hitter needs to pick a spot on the pitcher and look for the ball to come out. Pick his hat for convenience. Focus on that spot, out comes the ball, focus on that.

      You really think it serves a hitter well to look away from the place the ball is coming from, focus on the SS, process the sign from the SS, and then re-focus on the ball that has probably already come out ?
      =======
      re-read the post:
      “These signs Alex would flash came before the windup and that made it even more noticeable.””

    9. May 1st, 2009 | 10:33 am

      [...] Ted Keith (hat-tip to WasWatching.com): When it was reported last February that Alex Rodriguez had tested positive for steroids in 2003, [...]

    10. Tresh Fan
      May 1st, 2009 | 10:39 am

      Interesting. I wonder how many basehits Jeter got from all of this.

    11. MERK
      May 1st, 2009 | 11:08 am

      Within the article Spencer says, “It was brought up. I overheard it but not from specific people,” “I think I overheard it in our clubhouse,” and “I remember hearing that.” But he also says, “If we had noticed it, it would have been handled, in house with the players not with the coaching staff, personally with him first as friends and teammates and if it became a problem we’d have to bring the team in,” “But that never came up.” Either Spencer is misquoted or lying.

    12. lisaswan
      May 1st, 2009 | 11:20 am

      I wish the reporter had asked Spencer the question – did Roberts interview you for the book? That’s what I would do with any of these tell-alls involving baseball players. A few weeks ago, Jason Giambi made a whole big deal about how he wouldn’t do a tell-all book. Yet he was a source for “The Yankee Years”!

    13. thenewguy
      May 1st, 2009 | 11:21 am

      Interesting. I wonder how many basehits Jeter got from all of this.
      ———

      I do too…. considering that they were “friends” at this point and both SSs. There were only a handful of players who A-Rod could have tipped to and gotten tips from… Jeter being a potential candidate.

    14. May 1st, 2009 | 11:29 am

      FWIW, IIRC, once A-Rod got to Texas, and the Esquire interview was done, he and Jeter were no longer BFF.

    15. yagottagotomo1
      May 1st, 2009 | 12:39 pm

      Jeff Brantley and Michael Young said it never happened.

    16. May 1st, 2009 | 1:37 pm

      I was looking at baseballmusings.com to see how A-Rod did in blowouts with the Rangers. Here are the numbers (not sure how this will format, but please bear with me if they don’t look OK!)

      Total numbers
      2001 632 201 34 1 52 135 75 6 16 131 0 9 17 0 .318 .399 .622
      2002 624 187 27 2 57 142 87 12 10 122 0 4 14 0 .300 .392 .623
      2003 607 181 30 6 47 118 87 10 15 126 0 6 16 0 .298 .396 .600

      Trailing by Four Runs

      2001 34 8 2 0 1 6 3 0 1 8 0 0 1 0 .235 .316 .382
      2002 28 8 1 1 4 5 0 0 1 6 0 0 1 0 .286 .310 .821
      2003 37 17 6 0 6 13 3 0 0 9 0 0 2 0 .459 .500 1.108

      Trailing by Five or More Runs
      Season AB Hits 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB HBP K SH SF GDP CI BA OBA Slug%
      2001 48 12 3 0 4 6 10 0 2 11 0 1 4 0 .250 .393 .562
      2002 45 13 0 0 2 5 6 0 0 10 0 0 0 0 .289 .373 .422
      2003 61 14 1 0 2 4 7 0 3 15 0 1 0 0 .230 .333 .344

      Leading by Four Runs
      2001 21 4 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 4 0 0 0 0 .190 .227 .286
      2002 23 6 1 1 0 4 2 0 0 9 0 1 0 0 .261 .308 .391
      2003 21 7 1 0 4 7 5 1 0 3 0 0 1 0 .333 .462 .952

      Leading by Five or More Runs
      Season AB Hits 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB HBP K SH SF GDP CI BA OBA Slug%
      2001 45 17 0 0 5 17 6 1 1 5 0 2 1 0 .378 .444 .711
      2002 41 11 2 0 3 6 5 1 1 6 0 0 1 0 .268 .362 .537
      2003 40 14 1 0 1 6 5 0 0 9 0 1 2 0 .350 .413 .450

    17. May 1st, 2009 | 1:51 pm

      FWIW, if someone had PI, and the time and will to do this, they could look at MI who played a lot vs. Texas from 2001 thru 2003, and then see how they did in blowouts, late in the game, via queries like this:

      http://tinyurl.com/djbhkn

    18. Raf
      May 1st, 2009 | 3:39 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      FWIW, IIRC, once A-Rod got to Texas, and the Esquire interview was done, he and Jeter were no longer BFF.

      And this was Arod’s way of getting back into Jeter’s good graces? :D

    19. May 1st, 2009 | 11:16 pm

      Buck Showalter was on the Michael Kay Show today, and he denied the story. Showalter sounded very credible, at least to me.

    20. May 3rd, 2009 | 2:36 am

      FWIW, if someone had PI, and the time and will to do this, they could look at MI who played a lot vs. Texas from 2001 thru 2003, and then see how they did in blowouts, late in the game, via queries like this…

      I looked at something similar to this, but with every middle infielder who batted in a 5+ run game in the 7th inning or later and A-Rod at short over his whole career, and then compared how they hit in those situations compared to how they usually hit. I wrote up the results here:

      http://www.3-dbaseball.net/2009/04/was-rod-tipping-pitches.html

      if you’re interested, but basically, batters went from hitting like Adam Kennedy to hitting like Miguel Tejada with A-Rod at short late in lopsided games.

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