Last night, in the bottom of the third inning against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Steven Souza stepped up the plate immediately following Logan Morrison's homer that made it a 4-1 game. After reaching a 2-1 count, Souza hit a soft flare towards center field for what should have been a routine play.
Off the bat, Souza immediately thought the ball would be caught -- and reasonably so -- but as the ball approached its destination, two of the Angels outfielders just narrowly avoided a collision and in the process allowed the ball to drop behind them and roll a long distance to the center field wall. Souza was barely at first when this happened, but pressed the turbo button and raced his way towards third base. If he had been running full speed, he would have scored easily, but the box score will forever remember it as a triple.
Souza would tally a run after a swinging bunt from Corey Dickerson, but he'd remain in the dugout as the Rays took the field after the frame was finished.
As it turns out, nothing was wrong with Souza, he was pulled for his lack of hustle up the first base line, a move even more surprising than his soft flare falling for a hit.
The plate appearance in question came just a few frames after Steven Souza had gone full assault on the center field wall, just like he had done on Monday night's game.
Souza is known for being a hard nosed player, which is usually why ends up hurt on some plays; his reckless style of play leaves him oft-injured. So for him to be the one singled out by Kevin Cash is a bit strange, especially considering how the Rays outfield depth had been depleted up to this point in the season.
Following the game, Kevin Cash would not state that he pulled Steven Souza for his lack of hustle, stating that some things need to stay internal. However, Steven Souza wouldn't allow that, as he admitted to the media that his hustle was the cause for his early exit.
Kevin Cash said he wasn't trying to said a message...but of course he was.
In my opinion, he showed that he is still an authority figure and will keep control of the ball club even though the season has spiraled down hill, he showed that loafing will not be tolerated and isn't afraid to sit one of his better players because of that.
Of course he wasn't going to say anything about it to the media, just because his message had already been heard loud and clear in the club house so there was no need to publically ostracize a player to the media following the game.