St. Louis Cardinals slugger Tyler O’Neill, who was not in the lineup one day after manager Oliver Marmol criticized his baserunning effort, defended his track record as a “scrappy” player and said he wished the matter had been handled internally.
O’Neill was thrown out by Ronald Acuna Jr. at the plate with two outs and the Cardinals trailing the Braves 4-1 in the seventh inning Tuesday night. St. Louis lost the game by the same score.
Marmol took issue with O’Neill’s turn around third as he attempted to score from second on a Brendan Donovan pinch-hit liner to right, saying the effort was “unacceptable.”
“I got up through the minor leagues and into the big leagues playing hard and playing scrappy and, you know, that’s who I am,” O’Neill said Wednesday. “That’s my character. … These conversations definitely could have been had in-house and not gotten out on the loose like they have, should have been handled a little differently in my opinion, but you know, who’s to say?”
O’Neill, who started four of the Cardinals’ first five games of the season, was not in the lineup for Wednesday afternoon’s series finale against the Braves.
Marmol declined to specify whether starting Dylan Carlson in center field instead of O’Neill was tied directly to Tuesday’s play, but the Cardinals’ second-year manager doubled down on his criticism before Wednesday’s game.
“There’s going to be a style of play that we are known for,” Marmol said. “And it’s going to involve effort, and it’s going to involve being relentless. It’s going to involve being smart and we’re going to keep guys to that because that’s how you sustain being good for a long time.”
Marmol also said there were good players “in the clubhouse and down below and I love competition.”
Along with the switch-hitting Carlson in center, the Cardinals started left-handed hitter Alec Burleson in left field and rookie Jordan Walker, a right-handed batter, in right field Wednesday against Braves right-hander Bryce Elder.
O’Neill told reporters Wednesday was a scheduled day off and still contends he was hustling on the play.
“I definitely didn’t feel like I was going slower, you know, coming around third base,” he said. “I was focused on taking a tight turn and, you know, it is what it is. I went back and ran the replay and I ran the clock — I think it was second to home in about 6½ seconds.
“So I don’t necessarily know what big league average is or whatever that’s categorized as, but that’s what I got myself at. … Again, it was a heck of a throw and it’s good baseball play on their part.”
O’Neill entered Wednesday’s game as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning and flied out. The Cardinals lost 5-2, completing a three-game series sweep by Atlanta.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.