Former Angel Meltdown: Dennis Eckersley blasts Brian Fuentes for postgame comments

In the wake of last night’s 4-1 loss by the Oakland Athletics to the Los Angeles Angels, their sixth straight defeat, A’s closer Brian Fuentes took the opportunity to slam his current manager, Bob Geren. On Tuesday morning, former A’s closer and Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley in turn slammed Fuentes for throwing his manager under the bus.

Fuentes, who has taken four losses in his last four appearances, was upset at being called into the game during the eighth inning with no prior communication from his manager.

“There’s just no communication,” Fuentes said, according to MLB.com. “Two games on the road, bring the closer in a tied game, with no previous discussions of doing so. And then, tonight, in the seventh inning, I get up. I haven’t stretched, I haven’t prepared myself. If there was some communication beforehand I would be ready to come into the game — which I was, when I came into the game, I was ready. Just lack of communication. I don’t think anybody really knows which direction he’s headed.”

When asked about he has been handled, Fuentes responded, “Pretty poorly.”

This morning, Eckersley, speaking with the A’s flagship station, 95.7FM, was incensed that Fuentes would lash out like that in public.

According to San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea, here is part of what Eckersley said:

“Unheard of (not acknowledging Geren when Geren came to the mound). Geren’s got to do something. If I’m the manager, he’s in my office. If that was (Tony) La Russa, are you kidding me? He’d chop my head off. I would make a formal apology. He makes a ton of money, and he’s not the greatest closer in the universe. So zip it. You can’t say what he said. Period. He’s been around the big leagues too long to act like that. Weak. If you fail, you fail. You don’t throw the manager under the bus.”

Expect more fallout to come from this war of words, for sure. Geren said in a roundabout way that changes could be occurring in the bullpen.

“I’ve always said I’ve used a guy in the right situation,” Geren told John Shea said before the game. “The eighth inning is a good spot for Balfour. If there’s a better spot in reverse (with Balfour and Fuentes flip-flopping), we could do that, too. It’s about winning games.”

Winning games is not what the A’s are doing right now, and clearly, emotions are coming into play. Stay tuned, it could get interesting.

* Photo credit rburtzel via Creative Commons license

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