Game 34: Hunter, Norris and many others on fracas

Torii Hunter has a well-deserved reputation as one of the best people in the game. It’s a rarity to see him react like he did Monday. The only time he came close as a Tiger might have been last year, when an opposing pitcher threw a ball up and in near his head, and even that didn’t compare.

Bud Norris’ pitch was a 93-94 mph fastball (depending on the stadium radar gun or the Gameday reading) at Hunter’s ribs. Not even the 10-minute “cooling off” period postgame could cool his emotions about it.

“The guy had control,” Hunter said. “I was actually thinking he’s got good stuff today, he’s pitching pretty well. And boy, he just all of a sudden lost it? I mean, get in front of a pitching machine — I want all the people out there to get in front of a pitching machine, put it on 94, just hold your ribs up and take one, see what how turns out for you.”

Norris denied the pitch was intentional.

“First of all, I respect him and the game he’s played for a long time,” he said of Hunter. “I respect everything he’s done, but at the same token, I’m trying to do my job playing the game.

“I threw a first pitch slider. He took a really aggressive hack at it. Tried to throw a four-seam slider in, and it kind of got in on me. Late in the game, 115 pitches, whatever it may be, I’m sorry he didn’t appreciate it, but at the same token, I’m trying to throw a ball over the plate and get an out, ground ball to third base or something.”

Here’s how crew chief Bob Davidson described it:

“Kinsler hits a two-run homer and then the next hitter gets drilled. I thought [plate umpire James] Hoye handled it properly. I think that’s what anybody would have done. It’s a fastball that drilled the guys in the ribs, and I think Hoye did the right thing [to eject him]. That’s pretty much what it was.”

At some point, the pain over the pitch turned into anger.

“You know what, sometimes it comes out in all of us,” Hunter said. “We have anger issues and we just have to try to control them. If I hit you in the ribs at 94 miles an hour, it stings and all you see is red, I can’t explain it to you. You just try to calm yourself down.

“You saw me walking around, just trying to calm myself down. It was painful, especially when you think that it was on purpose. If I didn’t think that was on purpose, if Kinsler didn’t hit a home run, I wouldn’t have argued right there. I’d just take the pain and walk to first.”

That, he clearly didn’t do.

“It’s just like a pickup basketball game. You know, two guys, they get a foul and we argue, we do what we do,” Hunter said. “That’s just sports. That’s baseball. It’s just adrenaline going. Once you calm yourself down, you think about the situation and it doesn’t make sense. I’ve got kids in college. I can’t be doing that.”

Said Norris: “He’s entitled to his opinion, but I think he did overreact a little bit. I didn’t like the first swing he took on my slider, so I didn’t think I was going to jump out to the other half of the plate again. I know I worked inside, on both sides of the plate with [catcher Steve] Clevenger all day and got some ground balls in. Tried to throw a four-seamer in. He didn’t like it, and I guess he did overreact if that’s the way he feels.”

And then Norris took it a step further, seemingly suggesting Hunter’s reaction drew the ejection:

“His reaction kind of stirred the umpire too, stirred up their bench too.”

Asked about that, Hunter said: “I don’t know. I have no idea. I don’t know what happened. I mean, I wasn’t trying to get him ejected or anything. I was just talking to him. We had a nice talk.”

That talk might well have gotten Norris the final cause for ejection.

“I don’t know exactly when I decided when to throw him,” Hoye told a pool reporter. “When I did throw him, I guess that’s when I decided. I don’t know when, the sequence of events.”

Norris’ catcher, Steve Clevenger, said the ejection caught him by surprise. He also brought up another issue, when Ian Krol was missing inside on Nick Markakis in the seventh inning.

“We’ve been working in all game long,” Clevenger said. “Krol came in the last inning and buzzed Nicky a couple times and nothing was said, but when we worked in and got hit, he ejected him. I don’t agree with the call, but the call is the call.”

Then came the second blow-up, bringing Hunter to yell back and forth with Norris, who by then was on his way into the Orioles dugout.

“Before he got to the dugout, he looked back and said something,” Hunter said, “staring at me, saying something, I don’t know. But I’m too old for that, man. I mean, picking on the old guy? Come on. Really? I’ve probably got more hits than he does days in his life.”

Said Hoye: “I think Bud Norris was the instigator in that position again.”

He has been there before, including this season. Benches cleared at Fenway Park a few weeks ago after Norris hit David Ross with a pitch. Norris now has hit five batters this season. Just two Major League pitchers, Pittsburgh’s Charlie Morton and Texas’ Robbie Ross, have more.

“I heard bad things about him,” Hunter said, “but I mean, you can’t go by what you hear. But after tonight, maybe so.”

Norris, understandably, does not appreciate the reputation.

“A lot of people have a lot of opinions but I’ll tell you right now, I’m going out there and trying to get outs,” he said. “David Ross apologized immediately after that one. I don’t know what’s going to happen here. Torii can take what he wants from it.”

Hunter did, however, downplay the reaction springing up about umpire Paul Nauert putting a hand to his face, a highlight that got a ton of play on Deadspin immediately afterwards.

“No, no, that’s my guy,” Hunter insisted. “He was trying to cover my mouth. That’s my buddy. I’ve known him too long. He said you’re way better than that, and he’s right. I’m sorry to fans. I apologize to the fans for my reaction. Sometimes you just have the passion and things like that happen.”

26 Comments

Payback time was last night. Doing it in the next two games will bring a suspension.
On second.. I hope Coke pulls a Bondo

I missed the excitement last night, but it appears Rick did another really nice job – I think management is being rewarded by sticking with him

does anyone know why AlAl pitched the 8th instead of joba? not complaining, just curious. BP is beginning to gel!
and great game porcello!

Joba pitched the last 2 days.

Ausmus said after the game that they were in a bind. Joba and Evan Reed were both off after their outings. Ausmus said Alburquerque was going to face three batters only. If a runner had gotten on and Cruz came to bat, Nathan would’ve come on for a four-out save.

No apology needed from Torii “I’ll whoop your ass” Hunter. Loved it!

they just need to drop it and play. both teams had their say. that flight or fight response kicks in hard sometimes and often leads to regret in cooler moments. am not interested as an observer in seeing teams throw at one another to ‘send a message’ or intimidate. perhaps i’m in the minority on that.

Case by case basis: I wouldn’t retaliate this time. He got ejected, we won the game, let it ride.
My question is why Norris was able to sit in the dugout until the inning ended if he’d been ejected.

That Bondo beaning led to Delmon Young charging his own dugout. One of the strangest things I’ve ever seen in baseball. All in all, however, I’d have rather we just clinched the division that day in late 2009. It was game 159.

I remember it very well just like it was yesterday. Where does the time go to ??

Bondo did hit Delmon in the leg that day.

And thanked Bondo for not hitting his head

I think there was confusion on wether he was ejected or just taken out by his manager. He was done anyway, with his pitch count. Because of the light jogging/bench clearing I did not see an umpire give the old “yeroutta here” signal to Norris.

Nice win, Porcello is getting it done folks.

He definitely got tossed.

Fun game to watch. I like Torii’s explanation about taking a ball from a pitching machine in the ribs. That’s baseball and let’s move on. At least it wasn’t at his head. I think they said that Porcello felt a little tightness. Avila was interviewed after the game and said the muggy weather can give you cramps. he said his legs felt heavy. Go Tigers!

We definitely have a theme for May and that is to be “Road Warrior Tigers.” Very, very important what Al Al did last night. Joba certainly has pitched well enough to be our primary man in the eighth but he will not be able to do it every time. Great job by Al Al. But also a word of caution, Al Al leads the BP in number of pitches thrown. That can not continue long term. Brad Ausmus has done a spectacular job with the BP the first forty days. He has been given a young and experienced group and sent them out to pitch. Have they been perfect?? Of course, not. This is MLB.
Overall, we have about broke even in BP battles. That’s much better than what we did last year. Go Tigers!!!

OOPs, that should say inexperienced” up there!!!!

Alburquerque has pitched four days in a row, 54 total pitches, and gained three consecutive holds. He’s doing the job. Don’t kill him, Brad.
The Detroit bullpen is better than most people think, and their overall numbers are misleading.
I again caution against leaning on Hanrahan too much. It may be next year before he’s back to full effectiveness.
Same goes for Dirks. Back surgery is a very iffy business. It doesn’t always solve the problem. I see a lot of repeat business in that field.

Lynn G. Henning‏@Lynn_Henning·1 hr
Great pass-on from Mark Gorosh @sportz5176 All 4 Tigers IFs have plus UZR, as rated by FanGraphs. Cabrera leading all first basemen in UZR.
.
This is going very well so far, don’t you think?

hey rich i heard the nats have errors in 32 of 35 games this season. ROUGH!

It’s probably why we won’t see Rajai leading off. Too distracting for Miggy.

agreed Rich. Even Casty looks good over there. He makes all the plays.
.
In regards to TONIGHT, Jimenez had better have a “new gameplan” since we know his stuff pretty well. Smyly needs to be careful to keep things in the park tonight.

I just want to say Torii Hunter is a good man. His family and his fans should be very proud of the examples he sets with his actions and his words.

And you would be absolutely right, Randy.

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