MLB will look into Hunter-Norris incident, including umpire

It appears Bud Norris‘ fastball to Torii Hunter‘s ribs won’t be the only thing that gets reviewed out of Monday night’s benches-clearing exchange in the Tigers-Orioles game.

After all the shouting, the only actual person-to-person contact in question from the whole incident came from umpire Paul Nauert, who appeared to put his right hand up to Hunter’s face in an effort to calm him down. That slight contact, too, will be reviewed as part of Major League Baseball’s investigation into the incident.

The review is part of the standard operating procedure for all on-field incidents, an MLB spokesperson said.

It was soft contact, and Hunter brushed off any perceived ill will toward Nauert when talking about it after the game. Still, with players often disciplined for making contact with umpires during arguments, it figures that the reverse scenario would also get a look.

Hunter did not make it sound like an incident.

“No, no, that’s my guy,” Hunter said after the game. “He was trying to say, ‘Hey, cover your mouth.’ He was trying to cover my mouth. No, that’s my buddy, man.

“I’ve known him too long [to get angry]. He was trying to get me to [calm down] — ‘C’mon, T.’ He said you’re way better than that, and he’s right. I’m sorry to the fans. I apologize to the fans for my reaction. Sometimes you just have the passion, and things like that happen. It happens.”

That part came on the follow-up to the original exchange between Norris and Hunter, as Hunter was making his way to first base. Nauert had spent the first part of the argument trying to calm down Norris on the mound.

The tempers had seemingly cooled, and Norris, who had been ejected by home-plate umpire James Hoye, was at the dugout steps when he and Hunter began jawing again. Hunter began shouting back from first base as Tigers first-base coach Omar Vizquel tried to keep him from taking any steps toward the dugout.

Quickly, Nauert intervened and got in between them, which is when the contact happened. Replays seemingly showed Hunter reacting to the contact, but it wasn’t clear if he was talking to Nauert or still angry about Norris.

Nauert has been a Major League umpire since 1999 and umpired for a decade in the Minor Leagues before that. Hunter’s first full Major League season was in ’99.

As the Detroit News pointed out, an argument over a called third strike in 2009 turned heated when umpire Paul Schrieber put his hand on Magglio Ordonez’s back during their exchange to try to direct him back to the dugout. Then-Tigers manager Jim Leyland became livid and picked up the argument, admitting later that he “lost it.”

Schrieber apologized in a statement the next day, saying he was only trying to keep from having to eject Ordonez.

There is nothing in baseball’s rules specifically addressing umpire-player contact, but The Official Baseball Rules has a section called, “General Instructions to Umpires,” which includes the following paragraph:

“You are the only official representative of baseball on the ball field. It is often a trying position which requires the exercise of much patience and good judgment, but do not forget that the first essential in working out of a bad situation is to keep your own temper and self-control.”

2 Comments

I would say that Mr. Nauert succeeded in putting that last paragraph into practice.

i think we’re going to get this game in tonight. there’s a little weather there right now, and a little coming about 3am….but i think we’ve got baseball in baltimore tonight

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