CLEVELAND: Having been the manager who pulled the trigger on the first two Indians' squeeze plays since 2003, you probably think Manny Acta is one of those National League-bred skippers who is in love with the tactic.
Acta, indeed, spent his first 2 1/2 years as manager with a National League team, the woebegone Nationals of Washington. But the squeeze play isn't the first thing that pops into his mind when he is looking to score.
""I'd rather have nine guys hitting .340 with a .540 on-base percentage, so you don't have to do it,'' he said Tuesday.
Nevertheless, when the Tribe was tied 1-1 with the Blue Jays Monday night, Acta put on the squeeze play with Travis Hafner on third and Jayson Nix at the plate. Nix got the bunt down, Hafner scored and Cleveland won 2-1.
Believe it or not, until this year, Acta had not given the sign for a squeeze play, even though he was field boss for a team in the National League, where playing little ball is supposed to be a way of life.
""That's the third one for me,'' he said. ""One was fouled off.''
There is an obvious reason why squeeze plays are seldom used in the American League, which employs a designated hitter, denying pitchers a chance to hit (rather, strike out).
""Baseball these days revolves so much around power, especially in the American League,'' Acta said. ""That's nothing against any of us (managers). It's just the way rosters are built. It's also a risky play. And when it doesn't work, you can find 50 ways to second guess why the guy put it on.''