By Will Burchfield
Brad Ausmus committed a cardinal baseball sin on Saturday afternoon, but apparently in good faith.
It is unlikely he’ll face discipline from MLB.
After Ausmus was ejected in the first inning for unleashing a verbal tirade on umpires Manny Gonzalez and Fieldin Culbreth, he appeared to spit on Culbreth’s shoulder as he was yelling in his face. Culbreth immediately looked down at the spot where the spittle landed, prompting Ausmus to reach out and wipe it off.
Managers and players are generally barred from making contact with umpires. Those who cross the line typically incur a fine or a suspension.
On Sunday morning, Ausmus said he’ll likely hear from MLB about the incident, but doesn’t expect he’ll be suspended.
“I wouldn’t think so,” he said.
After Ausmus brushed off Culbreth’s shoulder, it appeared the two came to some kind of understanding.
“It wasn’t seeds, it was just spit that came out. I felt bad about that. I didn’t mean to spit on Fielden at all, which is why I wiped it off,” Ausmus said with a chuckle.
The argument began when Ausmus’ apparent request for a video review was either denied or overlooked by the umpire crew. After Victor Martinez was called out on a close play at first base, Ausmus gestured to his ears, a common sign for the umpires to put on their headsets.
Per league policy, managers must request a review within 30 seconds of the call in question. But it’s a loosely-enforced rule.
“Generally speaking, umpires give you in the range of 35 to 40 seconds. At 30 seconds they walk over to the dugout and give you an opportunity to make a decision. That wasn’t the case, first time all year it hasn’t been the case,” said Ausmus. “I’ve seen scenarios where a manager’s gotten 40, 45 seconds, so to cut it off arbitrarily that quickly I thought was uncalled for.”
When the game wasn’t paused, Ausmus raced out of the dugout and got in the face of Gonzalez, the home plate umpire. Culbreth, the first base umpire, stepped in to intervene, but Ausmus only grew hotter. Culbreth ejected him soon thereafter.
Ausmus received a standing ovation from the Comerica Park fans as he walked off the field.
Bench coach Gene Lamont, who filled in for Ausmus after he was ejected, enjoyed the skipper’s outburst.
“The replay thing has kind of taken away one of the real – I don’t want to say important parts – but a part of the game, the arguments, the fans like the arguments. It’s kind of taken that away, so it was a good one today,” Lamont said.
“That’s kind of what (the fans) come to see,” he added.
After Ausmus was kicked out, the Tigers’ offense banged out 15 hits and 10 runs in a 10-1 romp.
“It’s always good to see your manager fighting for your players, to know that he has your back like that,” said Nicholas Castellanos. “Maybe it sparked something in us, and we took off from there.”
It was the 11th ejection of Ausmus’ career as a manager.