“Really didn’t want to watch the game on TV, but,” Davey Martinez said as he sat down for his postgame presser following the Washington Nationals’ fourth straight loss and his first ejection as a major league skipper. Martinez earned it. He argued on behalf of Nats’ third baseman Anthony Rendon, who was tossed after flipping his bat in frustration following a third strike call by home plate umpire Marty Foster in the third inning of this afternoon’s game against the New York Mets in Nationals Park.
Martinez charged out of the Nationals’ dugout, exchanged some words, slammed his hat on the ground, kicked some dirt, gestured to point out how far inside the called third strike on Rendon was, and let Foster know he didn’t like the call.
Was he surprised at the quick ejection on Rendon, who didn’t say a word at that point?
Anthony Rendon got ejected for this. pic.twitter.com/8K7TjnuPHP— Nationals on MASN (@masnNationals) April 7, 2018
“Very,” Martinez said.
“In the heat of a game like that, things happen. Like I said the other day [after Trea Turner was ejected], I’ve been in this game a long time, and umpires do the best they can do.
“They’re really good, and that’s why they’re here, but I didn’t think at that particular time it warranted a toss that quick, for what he did.
“He didn’t say a word. At some point, you’ve got to protect the players.”
Here’s how you go out after your first career ejection pic.twitter.com/kiwtp7ultn— Jamal Collier (@JamalCollier) April 7, 2018
Crew Chief Joe West talked to Washington Post reporter Chelsea Janes after the game, offering an explanation for what he thought led to the ejection.
“The pitch prior to the strikeout, he walked completely out of the hitter’s circle, which the hitters aren’t allowed to do. Marty [Foster] said, ‘We gotta play. You gotta get back in there.’
“Then when he called strike three, [Rendon] threw the bat. You have some options there, and Marty felt that what he did was showing him up worse than an equipment violation would have been, and that’s why he ejected him. You have to so something, or he loses all respect from the players. I understand that he could have [not done anything], but he chose that this was the penalty for what he did. So it was more involved than just the strikeout, throwing equipment.”
“I was just as surprised as you all were,” Rendon told reporters when he was asked about the ejection after the game.
“I’m pretty sure you all saw the replay. I don’t think my mouth even opened to chew gum.
“So, it’s pretty funny. It’s comical to say the least. He had a vendetta out for me or something.”
Did he get an explanation after he was ejected?
“Yeah, so I guess he had said that I flipped the bat on him,” Rendon explained. “It’s pretty frustrating to say the least, especially when you’re taking at bats away from guys. And it’s just terrible because if you’re a younger guy and you’re trying to stay in the league and you have these strikeouts, the team doesn’t look at called strikes on umpires, and so they’re immediately going to say, ‘Oh, you struck out five, six times out of the last ten,’ and they’re going to send you down. But for umpires, it doesn’t look like they’re going to get sent down.
“They don’t get cut, they don’t get benched, they don’t get sent down to Triple-A, whatever it might be, and we have video of all the called strikes, and whatever pitch that it might be, ball or strike, and none of these balls are on the plate. We have video of an overhead view, right behind the pitcher’s mound, and it’s just sad that there’s no accountability for them.”
Rendon was asked if Foster’s strike zone was a topic of discussion in the dugout among his teammates, a few of whom questioned some called strikes (as did a couple Mets).
“Not prior to the at bat,” he said. “My first at bat, the ball that he rung me up on inside, was inside. He had told me before I walked away, he said it was a good pitch, but obviously it was not a good pitch. It’s frustrating to say the least because they have a buffer zone outside of the strike zone, outside of the plate, and if it hits this buffer zone, then it’s still called a good pitch, or a good call, but it’s not on the plate, so why is it being called a strike? So there’s some frustration, but it’s a part of the game, and I understand that they’re trying their best, obviously they’re not out to screw people, so we completely understand that, but I feel like there has to be an improvement.”
Martinez was asked if he did what he did in part to show his team that he had their backs.
“I’m going to protect the guys, I can tell you right now,” he said.
“So, and like I said, I didn’t think that warranted a toss, especially that quick, I mean, Rendon didn’t say a word.
“But with that being said, umpires — like I said, they do a good job, they do. I’m not going to criticize them, it’s part of what happens, part of the game, and we move forward.”