Sofield regrets ill-fated send in 9th Wednesday

Third-base coach aggressively waved Rodriguez home from second on single

Sofield regrets ill-fated send in 9th Wednesday

PHILADELPHIA -- Pirates third-base coach Rick Sofield owned up to his ninth-inning mistake in the Pirates' 6-2 loss to the Phillies on Wednesday and reported to work Thursday ready to move on. More than ready, actually.

With the Bucs trailing by four runs and one out in the ninth inning, Sofield sent Sean Rodriguez home from second on a single by Matt Joyce. Rodriguez was thrown out at the plate, nailed by Roman Quinn's Statcast-tracked 96.1-mph throw from center field, the strongest throw by a Phillies outfielder all season.

After the game, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said there was "no sense" in sending home Rodriguez when stopping him at third would have left the Pirates with the bases loaded, one out and the tying run at the plate. Sofield agreed.

"It was a bad decision on my part. I thought we had a shot there," Sofield said. "I just screwed that up royally. I thought there was something there that wasn't. It wasn't long after that throw was out of his hand that I realized I had made a brutal decision.

"That's a hard one to swallow for me. I'll be the happiest guy in America after the national anthem [before Thursday's game], to get back out there and I've got a chance to do something different to change my point of view on life."

Sofield's decision wasn't entirely made in the spur of the moment, as he was taking into account a poor throw Quinn made earlier in the game. But he still admitted his error, noting that it's his job to "manage the inning better than that." It's often a thankless job, as Hurdle pointed out, because third-base coaches typically only receive attention when they make a mistake.

"If there's an opportunity to score, a real opportunity to score, we'd like to border on the aggressive side," Hurdle said. "That's one of the challenges we've had for a few years here is being aggressive and smart. You can be bold and aggressive; bold doesn't mean you're smart. That's the part we want to work to in a better fashion is being aggressive and smart."

After the 2014 season, the Pirates swapped Sofield and Nick Leyva, moving Sofield to third and Leyva to first, because they wanted to encourage more aggressive decisions on the bases. Pittsburgh has been a below-average baserunning team this season. According to FanGraphs' all-encompassing "BaseRunning" statistic, the Bucs have been 4.1 runs worse than league average on the bases, ranking 20th in the Majors in that metric.

Some of those mistakes, particularly overly aggressive ones like Sofield's send, could be attributed to the Pirates' lack of offensive production. The Bucs entered Thursday's series finale having scored 43 runs in September, the second-fewest in the Majors.

"Unfortunately that falls back into trying to do something to enhance something that wasn't done earlier," Hurdle said. "That's the one thing that teams fight through when they're not performing at the level they want to perform at. … Sometimes in this game, the hardest part is staying in your own lane when things aren't going well."

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.