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The Miami Marlins' new stadium in Little Havana cost more than $500 million to construct, but all those dollars did not guarantee a working visitors' bullpen telephone.
During Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Tampa manager Joe Maddon wanted to tell a few relief pitchers to start warming up when starter James Shields began to lose steam in the seventh inning. But when the phone line to the bullpen beyond the outfield fence malfunctioned, Maddon had to call timeout and send infielder Will Rhymes dashing across the field to relay word to the bullpen
"It's hard work," Rhymes told the Tampa Bay Times on Sunday. "But somebody had to do it."
Maddon at first asked security personnel for walkie-talkies to communicate with the bullpen, but then decided to simply ask the home plate umpire for time.
"He looked the fastest," Maddon said when asked why he picked Rhymes to inform the bullpen. "The pitchers are so disinterested at that point, been eating the whole game, not able to run down. He was eager, he had that look in his eye."
"That kind of stuff does happen," Maddon said. "But you'd like to think they got it right here the first time. You know, when Fenway [Park in Boston, which opened in 1912] breaks down, you kind of expect it."
Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen had some fun with the situation, signaling to Maddon that perhaps he was the culprit in the phone failure. Guillen was "playing with Joe, acting like he had yanked the cord out," according to Tampa SS Elliot Johnson.
The Rays used walkie-talkies for the remainder of the game, saving Rhymes a few more trips to the bullpen. The Rays ended up winning the game 4-2 to complete a sweep of the Marlins, who have lost six straight games.
But at least their bullpen phone still works.