By Ashley Dunkak
COMERICA PARK (CBS DETROIT) – A day removed from an almost-brawl between the Detroit Tigers and the Chicago White Sox, Tigers manager Jim Leyland still would not talk about the situation that prompted him to launch into a lengthy tirade at the umpires and eventually get ejected.
He did, however, explain why he did not want to talk.
“There was a couple people [in the media] that referred to the fact that the Rodney situation in Florida happened because I said, ‘You pay a price for that,’ so they made a big deal about that and they indicated that it was my fault that I made a reference to something about after the game about paying a price,” Leyland said, “so I didn’t want to say anything yesterday to anybody.
“It would have done nothing but get me in trouble and the organization in trouble, and it would have been totally out of line because that’s the maddest I’ve been in eight years since I’ve been here,” he continued.
The Rodney situation to which Leyland alluded played out June 29 and June 30. Former Tiger and current Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Fernando Rodney threw near the head of Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera. The next game, a throw from the Tigers’ Rick Porcello buzzed the Rays’ Ben Zobrist.
After the game, Leyland said, “There’s no free lunch,” presumably invoking the unwritten rule of baseball that a team can retaliate when one of its hitters is thrown at to send a message that throwing at hitters’ heads will not be tolerated.
MLB suspended Porcello July 2, and accordingly to Leyland, some publications wrote that the suspension occurred primarily because of Leyland’s comments after the game.
In Thursday’s game at Comerica, White Sox pitcher Chris Sale buzzed a high fastball a few inches from Prince Fielder’s chin – one pitch removed from Cabrera blasting a home run. No warnings were issued, and when Tigers pitcher Luke Putkonen came in, he threw behind the back of Chicago’s Alexei Ramirez. When Ramirez charged the mound, the benches emptied, and the umpires ejected Putkonen but not Ramirez.
Needless to say, that upset the skipper.
Tigers reliever Phil Coke said Thursday that the whole situation might have been avoided had the umpires issued a warning after Sale’s pitch or after Putkonen’s pitch. He also said it did not make sense that Ramirez – the aggressor, by the fact that he charged the mound – was not also tossed from the game.
In addition to talking about why he did not speak with the media, Leyland said he was unhappy about the criticism he said he received in the media for being unavailable.
“I’m very upset at some people in this room because I think I was very disrespected,” Leyland said. “I’ve been here morning, noon and night for eight years to you guys – morning, noon, night, winter, summer, spring, never not returned a call or anything, and for people to take shots at me because –
The skipper interrupted himself, continuing, “The only thing that could have happened yesterday would have been bad. There was no need to speak to anybody here yesterday.
“If I haven’t earned that much respect, then I haven’t done a very good job here with you guys because I thought I was very disrespected with some of the comments taking cheap shots at me,” Leyland added. “I thought that was very disrespectful.”