Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Out of the box: Umpires eject Nationals GM Rizzo from luxury suite

18 Comments

Now this was an out-of-the-box ejection.

Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo was tossed for yelling at umpires from a luxury suite in Atlanta on Sunday, with longtime crew chief Joe West saying, “enough is enough.”

“I wouldn’t take that from a player. I wouldn’t take that from a manager,” West told The Associated Press. “If it was Donald Trump, I’d eject him, too. But I’d still vote for him.”

The 67-year-old West, on track to set the record for most games umpired in big league history next year, said the crew told the commissioner’s office Friday that Rizzo was hollering at umpires earlier in the Nationals-Braves series.

“We informed the office that if it continued we’d stop it,” West said. “And we did.”

This latest incident occurred with the last-place Nationals batting in the seventh inning, trailing NL East-leading Atlanta by six runs in a game the defending World Series champions eventually lost 10-3.

After Chris Martin threw a pitch to Eric Thames with two outs, umpire Hunter Wendelstedt stepped away from the plate, turned to face the stands and yelled “You’re out” while cocking his thumb.

Rizzo was standing outside the box, high above the plate at Truist Park, without a mask and was barking toward the field.

“He was saying, `you’re brutal’ and other things,” West said. “We’re in a pandemic situation, you can hear everything.”

With no crowd in the ballpark because of the coronavirus, someone on the field could be heard saying, “call security.” West then walked to the Braves dugout to use a telephone.

Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman said he heard someone shouting before Wendlestedt reacted.

“I think I heard someone yelling a couple days ago, too,” Freeman said, adding, “There’s no fans in the stands so we’ve got to keep the yelling to ourselves.”

Nationals manager Dave Martinez said “somebody screamed” but said he didn’t provide more details.

“I talked to Hunter briefly,” Martinez said. “He said we want to see what we can do about getting a certain guy out.”

Major League Baseball said it had started an inquiry.

“We have already been in communication with the Nationals regarding what transpired during today’s game, and we will speak with the umpiring crew today,” MLB said in a statement. “We will expect Joe West’s crew to provide a full account of their perspective, and we will follow up with them accordingly.”

The ejection came a day after the Nationals announced a multiyear contract extension for the 59-year-old Rizzo, who also is the team’s president of baseball operations.

Washington has struggled this season and is 14-25. World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg recently was ejected for shouting at umpires from the stands while the Nationals played the Mets in New York.

Rizzo has gotten steamed at umpires in the past, most notably at Citi Field in 2016 after a loss to the Mets. Rizzo and ump Jim Joyce had to be separated as they argued in a hallway where the locker rooms for the teams and umpires are located.

Angels’ Andrelton Simmons opts out of final 5 games

Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports
Leave a comment

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shortstop Andrelton Simmons has opted out of the remainder of the Los Angeles Angels’ season.

The Angels announced the four-time Gold Glove-winning shortstop’s decision Tuesday before they faced the San Diego Padres.

Los Angeles (24-31) is still technically in the playoff race with five games left in the regular season, and Simmons clearly caught the Angels by surprise, although the club said it respected his decision.

The 31-year-old Simmons, who can be a free agent this winter, is finishing his fifth year with the Angels. After spraining his ankle in late July and missing 22 games, Simmons is currently batting .297 with 10 RBIs while playing his usual stellar defense, albeit with four errors in 30 games.

“At this time, I feel this is the best decision for me and my family,” Simmons said in a statement. “We don’t know what the future holds, but we would like to sincerely thank the Angels organization and Angels fans for welcoming and making us feel at home.”

Manager Joe Maddon acknowledged he was caught by surprise when general manager Billy Eppler told him about Simmons’ decision Monday night after Simmons went 1 for 4 with an RBI single in the Angels’ home finale. Maddon texted Simmons, but hadn’t heard back by Tuesday afternoon.

“I’ve really enjoyed this guy a lot,” Maddon said. “I’m a big fan. This guy is a good baseball player, and I’ve enjoyed the conversations, too. It’s just unfortunate. He’s really a big part of what we’re doing right now.”

Simmons is a favorite of Angels fans for his defensive wizardry, and owner Arte Moreno has described Simmons as perhaps his favorite player to watch on the roster. Simmons has batted .281 with 36 homers and 281 RBIs during his five seasons with Los Angeles, and he won the Gold Glove in 2017 and 2018.

“He’s a thinking kind of a player, and I’ve enjoyed him a lot,” Maddon said.

Simmons will be a free agent this winter, and the Angels have an obvious replacement for him in David Fletcher, who has a .374 on-base percentage while regularly hitting leadoff for the Angels during his breakout major league season. Fletcher has been playing second base since Simmons’ return from injury.

But the Angels haven’t publicly closed the door on Simmons’ return, and he could be given a qualifying offer. Maddon has repeatedly said he would like Simmons to return in 2021 if possible.

The Angels haven’t had a winning season during Simmons’ five years in Anaheim, although Simmons said last week he wasn’t discouraged by the lack of team success. Simmons played his first four major league seasons in Atlanta, and he hasn’t appeared in the postseason since 2013.

Simmons also said he hadn’t been involved in any recent contract talks with the Angels, but he had enjoyed playing for the club. When asked if he wanted to return to the Halos, Simmons said he would have to “plead the fifth.”