HOUSTON (AP) — Houston manager Bo Porter defended Erik Bedard’s decision to remove himself from Saturday night’s game against Seattle with a no-hitter in the seventh inning because of a high pitch count and said he wouldn’t have let the left-hander stay in much longer.
Bedard, who has had three shoulder surgeries, chose to leave the game after working 6 1-3 because he had thrown 109 pitches.
Porter said before Sunday’s game against Seattle that he would have pulled Bedard at 120 pitches and said: “I respect him for making the decision that he made and I’m fine with it.”
He then added that he trusted that the 34-year-old Bedard knew his body and how far he could push himself.
“Whenever you start to talk about health issues, I’m always one that leans toward the side of protecting the player,” Porter said. “I told Erik before he even went out there, I said: ‘It’s going to be your call.’”
Bedard was replaced by Jose Cisnero and he gave up a two-run double to Michael Saunders.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge said he thought Porter made the correct move in giving Bedard the chance to stay in the game.
“If the guy says he doesn’t want to stay in the game, what are you going to do? You take him out of the game,” Wedge said. “Bo did it the right way. If the guy says he’s done, you can’t leave him in there and put him in a position to fail. He didn’t have a choice.”
Fellow Houston starter Bud Norris understood why Bedard made the decision he made, but would hate to be in a similar position.
“It would be a tough one to take the ball from me,” Norris said. “It’s always hard to give up the ball and with a no-hitter it would be even crazier.”
For some pitchers, they wouldn’t even consider leaving a game with a no-hitter intact.
“If I hadn’t given up a hit in a game, I would never take myself out — no matter what age or how bad or good I’m feeling,” Dodgers pitcher Ricky Nolasco said before Los Angeles played the National in Washington. “I don’t think any pitcher would ever take themselves out of a no-hitter.”
Though every team tries to limit pitch counts these days, going well above the standard limit for pitches to chase a no-hitter isn’t unheard of. San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum needed 148 pitches to complete his recent no-no against the Padres.
Johan Santana was coming off major shoulder surgery when he needed 134 pitches to finish the first no-hitter in Mets history last year. He hasn’t pitched this season after a second shoulder surgery.
“I’ve told our starters this each and every time I give them the ball that they better get it done in 120 pitches,” Porter said. “When you start talking about health issues and protecting the player and understanding the ramifications of what can follow that type of stress on your arm, it’s just something that you have to take into consideration given the situation.”
Still, 32-year-old Joe Saunders, a starter for the Mariners who watched as Bedard left the game Saturday night, had a different opinion.
“I wouldn’t have done what he did,” Saunders said. “I would have done things different and I think a lot of people would have.”
AP freelancer Dan Feldman contributed to this report.