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Tigers try to get rid of Alburquerque balk talk

Tigers try to get rid of Alburquerque balk talk

DETROIT -- Yankees manager Joe Girardi is balking at Al Alburquerque's move out of the stretch with runners on base.

That was the source of his back-and-forth exchange from the dugout with home-plate umpire Jerry Layne during the Yankees' sixth-inning rally on Saturday. Girardi didn't win the argument with Layne, but he made his case with reporters after the game.

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It's the way Alburquerque mixes his footwork that Girardi questions.

"I think Alburquerque balks every time," Girardi said. "One time his foot goes up twice. One time it goes up once. If a guy's trying to steal a base and he goes up twice one time and goes up once one time, if you're going to squeeze, you don't know when to go as the runner. I think it's a balk."

Clearly, Layne doesn't agree. The fact that Alburquerque has been called for two balks over parts of two seasons in the big leagues suggests other umpires haven't taken issue with it, either. For some, the difference could be chalked up to a pitcher varying his moves to keep baserunners guessing.

Tigers pitching coach Jeff Jones also disagrees with Girardi. All the same, he talked with Alburquerque about it Sunday morning and had him outside for a throwing session to work on it and get a little more consistency.

"Personally, I don't think what he does is a balk," Jones said, "but I don't want to get into a situation where another umpire calls it. … We're going to try to eliminate any doubt."

Girardi has seen Alburquerque called for a balk. It happened during Game 4 of the 2011 American League Division Series. That came with the bases loaded. Alburquerque's other balk came last Sept. 29 against the Twins with a runner on first.

Girardi's argument Saturday came while the Yankees had the bases loaded ahead of Lyle Overbay's two-run single.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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