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Diamondbacks’ Adam Eaton: Hustle was not the issue, forgetting how many outs there were was

PHOENIX — Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Adam Eaton has a reputation for hustling.

In fact, at one point in spring training his manager, Kirk Gibson, said perhaps his player needs to learn to slow things down, if only a bit, at certain times.

However, Tuesday night, in the bottom of the 10th inning with the game tied and A.J. Polloack on first and one out, Eaton was caught not running full speed out of the batter’s box on a ground ball. He was called out on a close play at first, with the double play ending the inning.

D-backs GM Kevin Towers told Arizona Sports 620’s Doug and Wolf Wednesday that Eaton would not start against the Orioles, and that is indeed the case. As Towers said, “Stuff like that is kind of uncalled for, kind of an unwritten rule in Major League Baseball you hustle every time regardless of where the ball is hit,” and manager Kirk Gibson agreed.

“If I had another player I would have removed him from the game (Tuesday night),” the skipper said. “One of my coaches talked to him, I’m going to talk to him.

“He’s just a very emotional player, he’s young. It’s not something he’ll do again, I promise you that.”

Gibson, though, added that he believes Eaton is a “great” kid who cares a lot, but sometimes lets his emotions get the best of him.

So, he said the plan is not so much to “bury the kid” as much as it is to make note that this cannot happen again, and leaving him out of Wednesday’s lineup is a way of showing that.

But according to Eaton, who hit a game-winning walk-off home run Monday night, this was not a case of him not putting forth maximum effort. No, it was something more simple — and frustrating — than that.

He lost track of how many outs there were in the inning.

“As soon as I hit the ball, for some reason I thought there were two outs,” he said, noting that he was running hard right out of the box but slowed down when he saw the throw go to second base. “Then I saw and it was an, ‘Oh crap’ moment, and I tried to turn it back on.”

The 24-year-old said teammate Willie Bloomquist had talked to him about making sure he’s always hustling down the line, but nobody had really talked to him to find out what exactly happened on the play.

Eaton said he’s not beating himself up over the situation, as it was a mental lapse that he does not expect to happen again, but added the ordeal could be looked at as a chance to grow as a big league ballplayer.

“It was a heightened play in the game where an extra base hit needs to be hit, you need to get on base somehow, and my mind is constantly running at that point,” he said. “I knew there was one out, but the emotions of the game, the rush of the game got to me.

“It kind of slipped, went to the back of my mind and I didn’t realize it at the time. I guess it is a learning experience. It won’t happen again. Even with two outs now you know I’m definitely going to be getting down the bag, definitely.”