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A.J. Hinch calls Angel Hernandez ‘unprofessional’ and ‘arrogant after being ejected

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Houston Astros manager AJ Hinch called umpire Angel Hernandez “unprofessional” and “arrogant” after being ejected in the first inning of Friday night’s split-squad game against St. Louis.

Hinch was tossed following one pitch in the bottom of the first inning.

“The fact that he wanted to throw me out in a spring training game is pretty ridiculous,” Hinch said. “He’s known for overreaction a little bit.”

Hinch’s postgame comments angered Hernandez.

“He said that? Write it,” Hernandez said before adding, “No comment. He got ejected for arguing balls and strikes. That’s it.”

The argument could linger beyond spring training.

“I’m sure we’ll revisit this in-season,” Hinch said.

Hinch said about a week ago Hernandez told him that he gets about four ball-strike calls wrong per game.

After a few of those calls didn’t go Houston’s way in the top of the first inning, Hinch said he calmly made a suggestion to Hernandez as the Astros prepared to bat.

“We have technology to help you get better and that these pitches are strikes,” Hinch said he told Hernandez. “He had kind of an arrogant attitude about it and didn’t want to hear it.”

When Hernandez called the first pitch to Astros leadoff hitter George Springer a strike, Hinch said he thought Hernandez probably made the call out of spite.

From the dugout,Hinch said he yelled to Hernandez that he’d used up his allotment missed calls, prompting the ejection.

Hinch emerged from the dugout and began a lengthy and at times heated conversation with Hernandez at home plate.

“When you argue balls and strikes you get thrown out, I get it,” Hinch said. “As it escalated, he said some condescending things that are inappropriate, unprofessional. I’ll leave it at that and we’ll move on to the next game.”

First base umpire CB Bucknor attempted to intervene, but Hinch wouldn’t leave the plate area for more than two minutes. At one point, Hernandez clapped his hands as if to say let’s go, argument over.

Hinch mockingly clapped back at him.

“I should thank CB. He was the voice of reason in all of it,” Hinch said. “CB was super calm about it, he just wanted the game to continue.”

As Hinch grew more agitated, he was restrained by both Springer and coach Alex Cintron. Hinch appeared to bump both Hernandez and Bucknor at least once each.

At one point during the argument, Cardinals starter Daniel Ponce de Leon elected to throw a warmup pitch, doing so while Hinch stood in the right-handed batter’s box, his back to the plate.

Hinch stopped to talk for several seconds with third base umpire Mike Estabrook on his way down the left field line to the Astros clubhouse.

Hernandez came under scrutiny during the AL playoffs last year when he had three calls at first base overtuned by replay during a Red Sox-Yankees game in New York.

Hernandez, 57, joined the Major League Baseball umpiring staff in 1993.

Hinch said he considered making the 15-minute drive to Jupiter where the other half of the Astros were playing a second split-squad game against the Cardinals.

“I didn’t think about managing it, but I thought about showing up and shocking, the whole side of that,” Hinch said.

The Astros’ side that Hinch had been managing won 5-0. The other squad of Astros beat St. Louis 11-2.

Straight-away center field will be 385 feet at London Stadium

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Marley Rivera of ESPN has a story about some of the on-field and in-game entertainment, as well as some aspects of the field conditions, for this weekend’s London Series.

The fun stuff: a mascot race, not unlike the Sausage Race at Miller Park or the President’s race at Nationals Park. The mascots for London: Winston Churchill, Freddie Mercury, Henry VIII and the Loch Ness Monster. I suppose that’s OK but, frankly, I’d go with Roger Bannister, Shakespeare, Charles Darwin and Guy Fawkes. Of course no one asks me these things.

There will also be a “Beat the Streak”-style race which had better use the theme to “Chariots of Fire” or else what the heck are we even doing here.

They’ve also taught ushers and various volunteers who will be on-site to sing “Take me out to the ballgame,” which is a pretty good idea given how important that is to baseball. As a cultural exchange, I think some major league team should start using “Vindaloo” by Fat Les during the seventh inning stretch here. It’s a banger. It also seems to capture England a bit more accurately than, say, “Downton Abbey” or “The Crown.”

That’s all good fun I suppose. But here’s some stuff that actually affects the game:

The end result will have some interesting dimensions. The field will be 330 feet down each foul line, and it will have a distance of 385 feet to center field, which will feature a 16-foot wall. Cook also said it would have an expanded, “Oakland-like” foul territory, referencing the Athletics’ Oakland Coliseum expanse.

Those dimensions are unavoidable given that the square peg that is a baseball field is being shoved into the round hole that is a soccer stadium. As Murray Cook, MLB’s senior field coordinator tells Rivera, that sort of thing, while perhaps less than ideal, is at least in keeping with baseball’s strong tradition of irregular field conditions. It will, however, be one of the shortest dead center distances in baseball history.

Oh, and then there’s this:

Protective netting was also an important issue addressed when building the ballpark, with Cook stressing that his team has implemented netting that “is the largest you’ll ever see in any major league ballpark.”

[Craig makes a mental note to bookmark this for the next time MLB says it won’t mandate extended netting in the U.S. because doing so is too difficult]