We saw an example of that recently, when the Dodgers placed Carlos Monasterios on the disabled list.
Los Angeles had claimed the pitcher from the Phillies in the Rule 5 draft, meaning that if he didn’t stay on the big league roster all season, they had to return him to Philadelphia. Monasterios, however—who lasted all of six and two-thirds innings over his previous two starts combined, giving up 10 runs in the process—was making that proposal difficult.
To judge by appearances, Los Angeles didn’t want him pitching in the major leagues, but didn’t have the leeway to send him to the minors. The solution: DL. The cause: a blister and a split nail on his pitching hand.
Such a move, should it be bogus, would be illegal. According to the Los Angeles Times, it was questionable:
How’s the blister?
“It doesn’t affect me,” Monasterios said.
What about the nail?
“There’s nothing wrong with the nail,” he said.
It’s not the first time this sort of maneuvering has happened this season. The Mets used the disabled list in a similar fashion, but for far different reasons.
When New York placed Oliver Perez on the DL, they claimed it was due to patella tendinitis. To many outsiders, however, it was because Perez was pitching too putridly to risk using. (The team would perhaps have a need in “extra innings or something like that,” said manager Jerry Manuel in the New York Post at the time, “but it’s going to be tough to find spots for him.”)
Perez had contract leeway to refuse a minor-league assignment. The Mets were unwilling to eat the $20 million they owe him over the next three years. (Said an unnamed Mets player in the Post: “At some point you have to cut bait. You owe him a lot of money, but for what?”)
So they did the next best thing—they stashed him on the DL (and not for the first time), or at least it appears that way. As with the Monasterios situation, this would be illegal were it true.
Sound shady? Of course it does. Just like the pitcher who denies intent after hitting a batter, the teams in question paint themselves as virtuous and true—at least according to their own PR.
Take Dodgers manager Joe Torre, who defended the Monasterios move. “Is it there or is it not?” he asked in the Times. “It’s not like I’m making up something. It’s there.”