Ump's needless ejection of Beltre bad luck for Red Sox

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On Tuesday night, Phillies slugger Ryan Howard was ejected from a 16-inning loss to the Astros when he argued a questionable check-swing strike call by third base umpire Scott Barry. The hook came quickly, without mercy, and forced the Phillies to move Raul Ibanez to first base and pitcher Roy Oswalt to the outfield.

The Phillies would eventually lose the contest, 4-2.

On Wednesday, an umpire again took center stage when Boston third baseman Adrian Beltre was ejected for – well really for nothing. Take it away, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe:

So it turns out Adrian Beltre was ejected because he told umpire Dan Bellino that he wasn’t talking to him.

After he struck out in the second inning, Beltre was talking to Felix Hernandez in the Seattle dugout, playfully telling him in Spanish that would hit a home run his next time up. As the two went back and forth, Bellino somehow thought Beltre was speaking to him.

When Beltre told him twice that he wasn’t, he was tossed out.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Beltre said. “I never said anything to him. Nothing.”

One thing Abraham fails to mention is that Beltre had complained loudly about the third strike called on him in the second inning – a pitch right down the middle at the knees, mind you – so the Red Sox third baseman isn’t completely innocent in all of this. Watch the video here.

That being said, ejecting a guy for saying “I wasn’t talking to you,” is out of line. Nobody goes to a game to watch an umpire, especially a minor league fill-in umpire, as Bellino is. Without their star third baseman, the Red Sox went on to lose to the Mariners 4-2, missing a chance to pull within 4 1/2 games of co-AL East leaders New York and Tampa Bay.

That doesn’t mean the Red Sox would have won the game if Beltre had played the entire game. But you hate to see a quick hook from a minor league umpire affecting a playoff race in any form.

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Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.