Rios gets the pass

BOB ELLIOTT -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:45 AM ET

The player manager Cito Gaston has publicly chastised the most in this his 18th season in uniform?

Well, it was not David Wells when the lefty refused to give up the ball against the Boston Red Sox in 1991, tossing it into foul territory as he made his exit.

It wasn't when the umps refused to check Oakland A's reliever Dennis Eckersley for an emery board during the final game of the 1989 American League Championship Series.

Nope, the outburst came in the spring of 1993.

Just back from Havana after a feature assignment on all-world third baseman Omar Linares, we landed in Miami on March 28, checked into the hotel and placed a call to Ken Fidlin, our man in Dunedin, Fla.

"You'll never guess what the manager said today," Fidlin told us after outfielder Derek Bell laid back on a fly ball and was doubled off second.

The words went like this from Gaston:

"You can't play the game like that. Maybe you can get away with that kind of play in Triple-A somewhere.

"Everybody likes the kid and he wants to do well, but he gets caught up in trying to look good rather than play good. I'm sure teammates talked to him. I know I've talked to him. But he has got to take charge of his own life and do what's right."

Wow!

"What's the big deal? guys get doubled off every game," we said to Fidlin.

"Not on an infield pop up," Fidlin said.

That conversation sprung to mind when watching Alex Rios get doubled off second Sunday afternoon. The Jays were losing 7-1 and were down to their final two outs.

Said Jays broadcaster Allan Ashby: "There is no way to sugar-coat that -- that was bad base running."

Would Rios have the same spot in Gaston's doghouse as Bell?

"Two different players," said Gaston last night.

"I didn't speak to Alex, one of my coaches did. We want to make sure that he doesn't do it again, but we don't want to take away his aggressiveness. The guy the ball was hit to (Garret Anderson) doesn't throw as well as he used to."

Rios is perplexing to the Jays and not just because he was doubled off.

He was selected to the all-star game in 2006 and '07.

A year ago today, Rios finished second to Vladimir Guerrero in the home run derby.

This year, Rios will not be going to the all-star game.

He has four homers and 36 RBIs. He's more like he was in his first two seasons when he hit 11 homers and drove in 87 RBIs in 257 games in 2004-05.

The difference between Rios' rookie year, when he struggled with power, and this season?

Management rewarded him with a seven-year, $69.8-million US extension on April 4.

"Alex is a good kid," Gaston said. "He'll be okay."

Bell, with Baseball America player of the year on his resume, was an outfielder of great promise.

Being doubled off by Detroit Tigers infielder Skeeter Barnes was the straw that rang the final bell.

Two days later he was dealt to the San Diego Padres along with minor-league outfielder Stoney Briggs for veteran outfielder Darrin Jackson.

Jackson joined the Jays for an exhibition series at B.C. Place in Vancouver. That didn't work out, but Jackson was traded to the New York Mets for Tony Fernandez and that did work out as the Jays repeated as World Series champs.

We'll see how Rios works out. Both at the plate and on the bases.

After going hitless in his first three trips against the Orioles last night, Rios tagged a 3-2 pitch for a three-run triple to left-centre and scored the tying run.


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