Jim Leyland is as mad as hell and he's not going to take it anymore

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Lost in Matt Garza’s no-hitter last night was the fact that Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland was ejected in the bottom of the third arguing an obviously blown call on B.J. Upton’s stolen base attempt.  Second base umpire Marty Foster called Upton safe. He was most definitely out. Leyland argued, but he didn’t do anything crazy. Foster tossed him, though.

Why? Watch the replay of the argument in the above link.  Foster made a big show of wiping his shirt off during the argument, right before he tossed Leyland.  Foster, Leyland says, accused Leyland of intentionally spitting on him.  Leyland ain’t having it:

“He accused me of something I didn’t do and that pissed me off and
that’s when I got going. I
had some sunflower seeds and when I was talking some sprayed on him and
he indicated that I deliberately spit on him.

“I’m not going
to take that from anybody. I’m not going to do it. I’m not going to take
that kind of accusation from anybody. That’s a blatant lie. Did some of the sunflower seeds spray on his shirt? Yes they did,
without any question. But I don’t even spit on the
ground.

“And I’m not going to take that. I’m tired of
protecting umpires. I’m tired of not being able to say anything. I’m
defending myself. If you want to kick me out, that’s fine. I don’t care
about that because it sprayed on his shirt, but when you start to accuse
somebody of doing something you better be careful.”

Leyland was asked what he’d do if he got suspended or something due to the alleged spitting. His response: “I don’t know what they’re going to do and I don’t give a s— . . .I’m tired of it.”

I don’t blame Leyland for being angry. Maybe you should get ejected if you’re arguing so much that some sunflower seeds land on the ump, but on what planet does an umpire actually think that Leyland was intentionally spitting on him, as Leyland says that Foster thought?

My guess: Foster knew he blew the call and was on edge anyway. When Leyland started giving him what-for, he was emotionally prepared to eject him as soon as possible out of sheer defense and insecurity. If, as Leyland says, Foster accused him of spitting intentionally, it was borne of some emotional need to grab whatever high ground he could in the course of the argument. My second guess: Major League Baseball watches the video and comes to the same conclusion, and that Leyland is not further disciplined.

But Foster won’t get disciplined either, of course, because disciplining an umpire would be pure crazy from Major League Baseball’s perspective.

Reds having Michael Lorenzen prepare as a two-way player

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For decades, a legitimate “two-way player” — a player who functions as both a pitcher and as a position player — was nothing but a fantasy. The skill sets required for both are too distinct and require too much prep work, it was thought. The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani shattered that illusion in 2018, posting a .925 OPS in 367 plate appearances as a hitter while posting a 3.31 ERA in 51 2/3 innings as a pitcher.

Since then, several more players have been considered in two-way roles. The Rangers signed Matt Davidson earlier this month and could potentially use him as a corner infielder as well as a reliever. Also earlier this month, James Loney signed with the independent Atlantic League’s Sugar Land Skeeters, who plan to use him as both a first baseman and as a pitcher.

You can add Michael Lorenzen of the Reds to that list. MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports that the Reds will have Lorenzen prepare this spring as a two-way player. He could both start and relieve while occasionally playing in the outfield. Lorenzen, in fact, took batting practice with the outfielders on Thursday. Previously, he had taken batting practice as extra work following a workout with fellow pitchers.

Lorenzen said, “It’s fantastic, the effort they’re putting in. A lot of the excuses were, ‘You know, we don’t want to overwork him.’ Well, let’s just sit down and talk about it then. They were willing to sit down and talk about it, which is one of the reasons why I love this staff so much and why I think the front office did a great job [hiring] this staff. They’re willing to find solutions for problems.”

New manager David Bell said, “We’ve put together a plan for the whole spring, knowing we can adjust it at any time. We didn’t want to go into each day not knowing what he’s going to do. We all felt better, he did, too. He was part of putting it together.”

Lorenzen, 27, pitched 81 innings last year with a 3.11 ERA and a 54/34 K/BB ratio. He’s one of baseball’s best-hitting pitchers as well. Last year, he swatted four homers and knocked in 10 runs in 34 trips to the plate. The last pitcher to hit at least four homers in a season was the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner, who did it in both 2014 (four) and 2015 (five). Lorenzen also posted a 1.043 OPS. According to Baseball Reference, there have been only 11 pitchers to OPS over 1.000 (min. 30 PA). The only ones to do it in the 2000’s are Lorenzen last year, Micah Owings in 2007 (1.033) and Dontrelle Willis in 2011 (1.032).