Interim manager Kirk Gibson made a few changes to the Diamondbacks line-up a day after the team was lit up 12-1 against the San Diego Padres. With left-hander Clayton Richard on the mound Gibson chose to start Rusty Ryal in left field and Chris Snyder behind the plate.
Ryal has been a pleasant surprise this year. After securing the final roster spot out of spring training he has shown versatility playing several infield and outfield positions; some more successful than others.
Few people will forget the night Ryal had two errors at first base in a game where the Diamondbacks recorded six errors total. Despite the few errors Ryal has made good decisions for the most part. Tonight though was one of those times when there was a slight lapse in judgment, actually two.
Padres center fielder Tony Gwynn Jr. was at the plate and sliced a ball down the left field line towards the corner. Rather than attempt to keep the ball in front of him, Ryal attempted to dive for the ball missing it.
As Ryal was sprawled on the turn Gwynn turned on the after burners around the bases. By the time Ryal had retrieved the ball and thrown it back into the infield Gwynn had crossed the plate scoring on an inside-the-park home run.
While that was not the best decision he could have made, I still accept his willingness to go all out for the ball. When the game was over, reporters were allowed into the clubhouse to interview the players.
Ryal refused to speak to reporters and left the stadium. This lack of judgment is in my opinion much more difficult to overlook. I appreciate that Ryal may feel bad about giving up the inside-the-park home run but he needed to speak to reporters.
Since taking over as manager, Kirk Gibson has tried to instill into each player a sense of accountability. A player is responsible for each and every decision they make on the playing field.
Ryal should have stood up and accepted responsibility for this lapse in judgment which cost his team the run and possibly the game. By side stepping this, he gave the impression that he was not accountable for his actions.
The next day Ryal did answer a few questions but the damage had already been done. As a fan I completely understand that players are not perfect and they do make mistakes. All we ask is that the players admit their mistakes and develop a plan where they will hopefully not continue to make the same mistakes over and over.