The life of a third base coach
Jeff Cox understands that second-guessing comes with the territory as the White Sox third base coach.
“It’s the hot seat, but we are all human,” said Cox, sitting in the White Sox dugout, prior to Wednesday’s series finale with the Royals.
Cox became the temporary center of attention following Kansas City’s 5-4 victory on Tuesday night, primarily because of one specific instance coming in the fifth inning.
Kansas City had grabbed a one-run lead in the top of the fifth, but the White Sox had runners on first and third with nobody out courtesy of a Carlos Quentin walk and Alex Rios’ hit-and run single to right. Alexei Ramirez followed with a fly ball to Willie Bloomquist in medium deep right field, and Cox decided to send Quentin home in an attempt to score the tying run.
Bloomquist’s throw was a little up the third-base line but still right on target for catcher John Buck to put the tag on Quentin and end the rally. The White Sox had exactly two baserunners over the remainder of the game.
Strong cases could be presented for both sending Quentin or holding him. Quentin has battled plantar fasciitis in his left foot and a sore right knee throughout the season, plus the White Sox had Kansas City starter Gil Meche on the ropes all game. But then again, Bloomquist is far from a prototypical right fielder.
“In that situation right there, Bloomquist is an infielder playing the outfield,” said Cox, explaining his decision. “Most of the time in that instance, you error on the side of assertiveness. It turns out he made a perfect throw and I thought it was deep enough that Carlos could score on the play and he threw him out.
“This is not a foolproof position. If the throw is offline, he’s safe.”
Ozzie Guillen certainly understands Cox’s plight as a third-base coach, having previously held that position for the Expos and Marlins. Guillen knows that the only time a third-base coach draws any attention is when something goes wrong.
“It’s easier to manage than it is to coach,” Guillen said. “The only thing is, I have to make the decisions as a manger, I have to take the blame and I have to take the glory.
“When you coach third base, sometimes you’re going to make plays people disagree with or people will be happy with him. You will be second guessed a lot, but in the meanwhile, I want him to be consistent.
“He’s there for a reason,” Guillen said. “I think he’s doing a good job. Some people don’t like what they see. Yesterday, Bloomquist was playing the outfield. I’m going to take that chance. He’s not an outfielder. In the meanwhile, I let everybody do their job.”
Guillen added that the blame should fall on him if people are unhappy with Cox because he hired Cox. Meanwhile, Cox comes infinitely prepared to this job and has done far more good than harm to the team since he’s been here.
The criticism comes with the job. But so should a little perspective from the people who don’t have Cox’s responsibilities.
“It’s the nature of the position and I love the position. I’m very good,” Cox said. “There is a lot more to coaching third base then just sending runners and things of that nature. If it was easy, everybody would do it. Ozzie can relate and (White Sox bench coach) Joey (Cora) can relate.”
“In this game, he’s had more success than failure,” said Guillen of Cox. “As long as he doesn’t panic and stay the same way, I’m behind him. When he panics, then we have a problem. I’m behind him 100 percent and hopefully, those people out there that are disappointed about it, it’s not an easy job.”