David Ortiz on eruption: ‘I’m not a bad guy; I’m trying to do my job’
|07.28.13 at 12:24 am ET|
BALTIMORE — The at-bat seemed familiar at first. David Ortiz took three straight balls from right-hander Jairo Asencio in his fourth plate appearance of the night in the top of the seventh.
On a night when he’d already been walked twice, the slugger was prepared to take his third straight free pass, an outcome that seemingly was secured when Asencio sailed a fastball high on the next pitch. Ortiz took the guard off his right elbow, and flipped that along with his bat towards the Red Sox dugout as he prepared for another march to first.
But home plate umpire Tim Timmons called the pitch — which appeared high on replays — a strike, much to Ortiz’s bafflement. He called the next pitch — a borderline one away — a strike as well before swinging over the top of a full-count pitch in the dirt for a punchout. On the way back to the Sox clubhouse, Ortiz had several words for Timmons before turning away from the umpire and proceeding to the dugout.
He walked down the steps and then obliterated a bat against the bullpen phone, an act of violence that had teammates covering their heads amidst the flying splinters and that prompted Timmons to run Ortiz from the game. Ortiz, in turn, started back out of the dugout and had to be restrained and turned back towards the dugout egress by manager John Farrell and bench coach Torey Lovullo, a march he made only after being confronted by teammate Dustin Pedroia in the dugout.
After the game, Ortiz remained irate at Timmons’ call and decision to run him from the game in his 10th career ejection.
“All I’ve got to tell you is I’ve got 17 years in the league and I don’t think I deserve to be disrespected like that. If you want to get respect from the players, you respect the players. That was horrible. Both of the pitches, not one. These people been semi-intentionally walking me all night, I don’t mind going to first base so what was the reason you’ve got to call pitches like that a strike?’’ Ortiz said. “It was a ball that if the catcher let it go, it would have hit [Timmons] in the face. The funny thing is he wanted to act like it was the right call. No, I don’t play that. I don’t pitch, I don’t play defense, I hit. You’re not going to take my at-bat away from me. Period.
“When I was walking away I was telling him he was acting like he wanted to be right about the call. No you weren’t, you weren’t right, the whole planet saw you weren’t right. So don’t be giving me that (expletive),” Ortiz added. “If you miss it, just tell me ‘I missed it’ and I’ll walk away, I have no problem with that. You’re not perfect, you’re human but don’t try to act like it was the right call. It was ball four.”
Ortiz emphasized that his entire livelihood is devoted to the simple act of hitting. As such, regardless of the game circumstance, he is not willing to shrug off a plate appearance that was influenced by what he deemed a blatant missed call. He did not apologize for his vesuvian response.
“That was horrible. It was horrible,” said Ortiz. “People always focus on when we snap. We’re not snapping everyday out there, there’s a reason why we snap. You always look like the bad guy – I’m not a bad guy; I’m trying to do my job. You don’t take my at-bat away from me like that.’’
Ortiz took umbrage not just with the missed calls, but also with Timmons’ decision to eject him for the violence he inflicted upon the dugout phone and his bat.
“You don’t toss anybody while you’re doing whatever you want to do in the dugout, unless I’m screaming at you,” said Ortiz. “I wasn’t screaming at him, I was just upset and I started swinging at everything in the dugout, probably that’s the only thing I can hit every time.”
Though teammates were left to duck beneath the shower of splinters, Ortiz said that none of them were in harm’s way while he exploded his bat.
“I didn’t hit anybody. I know what I was swinging at,” he said, before grinning, “I’ve got good eyes, bro.”
Still, Pedroia saw fit to stand nose-to-nose (or, more accurately in the case of the disparately sized Ortiz and Pedroia, nose to bald spot) with his teammate after the ejection. The second baseman explained that he was trying to get his teammate to focus on the big picture rather than do anything that might prove costly to the team.
“Guys get frustrated, it’s part of the game. Just wanted to make sure that David didn’t get too bad to where he gets suspended or any of that,” said Pedroia. “He’s the biggest part of our lineup. We can’t lose David for one game. I was trying to get to him, I’m sure it looked pretty funny, smallest guy out there yelling at the biggest guy. It’s part of the game, I go down there and snap sometimes. But it happens.”
The DH said that he can’t imagine being suspended, given what he considered the questionable decision to eject him. Indeed, Ortiz said that if there is any discipline to be meted, it should come at Timmons’ expense.
“I want to hear what the argument’s going to be [in favor of a suspension]. I want to hear that because I have a good one,” said Ortiz. “When situations like that happens, I think MLB should do something because that was horrible. We’re not playing this game for fun, we’re playing to win and if you walk, I walk, I’ve got no problem with that. But you’re not going to take my at-bat away from me. I hit that’s what I do. And I work really hard to be who I am at the plate. That might be the worse call of the year right there. That was bad. Definitely.’’
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