A running debate about stealing third

Shane Victorino stole third base with two outs on Wednesday against the Marlins. (Yong Kim/Staff file photo)

Not a very newsy pregame at Citizens Bank Park Thursday before the series finale between the Phillies and Miami Marlins.

The team announced early in the day that Pat Burrell will sign a minor-league contract and retire as a Phillie Saturday May 19 before a game against the Boston Red Sox.

General manager Ruben Amaro had said that first baseman Ryan Howard was scheduled to visit a wound specialist at Jefferson Hospital Thursday, but that appointment is now scheduled for Monday. Howard should find out at that point how he can progress in his recovery from an infection that occurred as he was rehabilitating from surgery on his left Achilles tendon.

On this slow news day, we decided to discuss similar head-scratching plays that had different results during the first two games of the series between the teams.

With two outs in the top of the fifth inning Monday, Miami shortstop Jose Reyes tried to steal third base and was gunned down by Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz.

Bad play. Nothing to debate.

Reyes, especially with his speed, should score on a two-out hit regardless of where it goes or how hard it is hit, so there is no point in trying to steal third base there.

With two outs and runners on first and second Wednesday, Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino stole third base.

Good play?

Both manager Charlie Manuel and general manager Ruben Amaro agreed that Victorino's steal attempt would have also been a bad play if it had been unsuccessful, but they saw it as being more logical than what Reyes did Monday.

"That's good as long as you make it," Manuel said. "At the same time, my opinion of that play is that in some ways I want him to do that because that tells them we're not going to sit there and do nothing. You better watch out for us because we're going to run and that will make the infielders move a couple steps from where they would normally play. That will get the third baseman up close, he won't be as deep and we can get more balls by him and things like that.

"If you get thrown out, that's not good baseball. But if you make it, that really sends them a message."

Amaro's opinion: "Shane's situation -- something people don't really understand sometimes -- if there is a first-and-second situation and a guy happens to steal third base, there is some purpose to that. It opens up the hole between first and second for a left-handed hitter or for any hitter, so there is some purpose to that, but you can't get thrown out.

"If you're going, you had best make it. But what that can do is, now it draws the first baseman closer to first base to hold the runner on and it opens up the hole and a little dribbler or roller might get through and that's a run. If they're playing normal depth or first-and-second situation, it may not work, so there is some purpose to that."