Leyland ejected, apologizes
What was shaping up to be a long afternoon actually became a short game for Tigers manager Jim Leyland.
First came Miguel Cabrera’s hamstring injury, which forced him out of
the game after two innings. Minutes later, Dontrelle Willis suffered a
third-inning breakdown, walking four batters and hitting another. But
the cap came after Leyland went to the mound to remove Willis from the
game, then was ejected by home-plate umpire Jeff Nelson on his way back
to the dugout.
Leyland got into Nelson’s face to get his ejection’s worth, but said later he was at fault.
“I was wrong,” Leyland said. “I want to apologize. I think what
happened [was] some of our players, including our catcher, thought a
couple pitches were strikes. And I was wrong. I think everybody wanted
it so bad for Dontrelle and you get three runs on the board and you
think there’s a couple close pitches. But when you’re that wild, you’re
not going to get close pitches.
“There were a couple close pitches, but the umpire was right. I was totally out of line, and I apologize for that.”
It marked the second ejection of the season for Leyland, who was tossed
from a game last month at Minnesota after umpire Paul Schrieber put his
hand on Magglio Ordonez’s back to direct him towards the dugout
following a called third strike. That, too, was a game Willis pitched,
but that played nothing into it.
Thursday was a situation where
the support for Willis clearly came into play. He held down Boston’s
offense on a walk and two strikeouts through the first two innings, but
seemingly came apart in the third after hitting Jacoby Ellsbury with an
0-2 pitch. He walked Julio Lugo on five pitches, struck out Chris
Kottaras on a called third strike, then walked Dustin Pedroia, J.D.
Drew and Kevin Youkilis consecutively to bring in two runs.
Somewhere in those pitches was one that Willis thought was a strike,
because Willis said after the game that he let a call get to him.
Apparently Leyland did, too.
“It was silly for me to get thrown out,” Leyland said. “It appeared
that I was frustrated, and maybe I was, maybe a little frustrated for
Dontrelle, I don’t know. You want it so bad for a guy, and everybody
else wants it so bad for him. I overreacted. I’ll pay whatever the
penalty is, obviously.
“You get three runs, you’re pumped up. Looks like you have a chance to
have a good day. And when you get in a situation like that, it’s a
helpless feeling, trust me. Control has not been a problem for
Dontrelle, but today for the first time, after you could see what was
starting to go on for a little bit, you were hoping that he threw a
strike. And that’s a bad feeling. But it’s not an excuse to get run or
anything. I wish I wouldn’t have. I’m kind of ashamed of myself,
really, because it’s not very professional.”