Valentine voices displeasure with umpires


Valentine voices displeasure with umpires

KANSAS CITY Perhaps it was the frustration of losing a series to the Kansas City Royals as his team had just done following a 4-3 loss at Kauffman Stadium.

But Bobby Valentine took direct aim at the umpiring crew in the defeat, singling out home plate umpire Jeff Nelson.

Valentine was enraged that Nelson would not ask for help from first base umpire Bill Welke when Marlon Byrd, squaring to bunt, appeared to have been hit by a pitch from Royals' closer Jonathan Broxton.

"Expletive umpire can't make a right call and get help?" fumed Valentine. "It's a damn shame, is what it is. Don't be stubborn. It's not his job to call a friggin' play. Just get help. It's a damn shame is what that is. It's a damn shame. And then they don't want replay. If they can't get it right, they should friggin' ask for help.

"They asked for help on the one in the outfield in the first inning when Cody Ross couldn't hold onto a ball hit by Brayon Pena and I think they got it right. Why the expletive is it so hard to at the end of the game if you can do it at the beginning of the game."

Nelson, asked by a pool reporter why he didn't ask Welke for help, said: "That's the ruling I had on the field."

He continued: "We usually don't ask for help about a ball hitting a guy's hand based on an umpire that's 100 feet away. You go on the best information you have and also, if the batter had been offering at the pitch and the pitch had hit his hand, the result would be a strike and a dead ball.

"But my ruling was a foul ball."

Byrd, for his part, said the ball did strike his finger. His finger was taped, but Byrd wasn't nearly as angry as his manager.

"I ended up getting the bunt down, which was good," said Byrd. "I got the bunt down so that was the main thing. He made the call. There's nothing you can do about it. I had to get the job done and I did."

Surely, however, the dynamic of the inning would have been different. Instead of having runners at second and third with one out, the Sox would have had the bases loaded with no outs.

The ninth inning wasn't the only place where the umpires played a big part.

In the first inning, with one run in, two runners on and two out, Ross tracked that ball to the warning track by Pena and caught it before soon losing control of the ball as it bounced off the wall behind him.

Third base umpire Chris Guccione made the call as he ran down the left field line, then conferred with the rest of the crew and confirmed it. That accounted for two more runs for the Royals.

"I thought it hit his glove and then bounced off the wall," said Valentine. "I didn't know that they saw that. It's not a catch unless you get it out of the glove voluntarily."

"I thought I caught the ball," said Ross. "I took a couple of good steps and went to brace myself against the chain-link fence and the ball just kind of came out. I really didn't think anything of it. When I saw it kind of pop out, I kind of grabbed it.

"I turned around and expected just to run off the field after the third out and I saw shortstop Mike Aviles to throw it. So I threw it in. I guess Guccione thought that I didn't catch it, so..."

Ross asked Guccione for a ruling and was told that when a catch is made "you have to maintain control on exchange to the throwing hand. It's a tough call for him. I haven't seen the replay. It ended up being a huge play for them."