Rays Notes: Yunel Escobar Gesture Following Home Run Prompts Controversy

By Robbie Knopf

The Rays were down by four runs and hoping for a spark of some kind. Yunel Escobar gave them just that in the 9th against Casey Janssen, drilling a 2-run home run to make it 7-5. As he crossed home plate, though, Escobar swung his hands as though making a “safe” call, and after the Rays lost 7-5, that has received much more attention than his home run itself. Joe Maddon talked about the situation after the game.

"“I love the fact that he competed the way that he did. Obviously we’ve been talking about how well he’s been doing; he’s been doing great. And I love him on this team, I love him in the clubhouse, I love everything about this young man. But I still want to talk to him about the reaction after his home run, and I’m certain you’re not going to see that again.”"

It was a big home run by Escobar, but to Maddon it seemed like he was showing up the crowd, who was booing him following the hit, and simply turning something into nothing and creating a problem that certainly never had to happen. Interestingly, though, both Escobar and Janssen had no issues with what happened.

"What I do at home plate, I always do every time I hit a homer,” Escobar said. “I don’t want to misinterpret that. It’s just something that I do every time I cross home plate.“I’m going to explain to Joe that I do that every time,” he added. “I’m here to talk about it, and I’m just here to try and win games.”…“I missed it, completely missed it,” Janssen said. “I don’t know what happened. I heard a couple of boos, and that’s it.”“He hit it–he hit his homer,” Janssen said. “Like I said I didn’t see it. I don’t think he’s doing anything directed at me. We were teammates; I had nothing wrong with him, you know, move on.”"

Maybe it’s just part of Escobar’s personality to get excited after a big play (he has indeed done that before), and it’s almost like a personal gratification as opposed to disrespecting anyone else. He didn’t look at Janssen or do anything along those lines, and Janssen wasn’t offended at all. But you have to wonder how much of Janssen’s indifference about Escobar’s actions was based on the fact that they were former teammates. Jose Reyes was chided for a long time a few years ago when he was on the Mets for rounding the bases with a finger in the air. Escobar didn’t commit an offense nearly that egregious, but even if he did the “safe” call for himself, everyone is watching and he has to be mindful of that. Hopefully Joe Maddon can communicate that to Escobar and we won’t see anything like this happen again.