BOSTON -- Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine did not take kindly to being asked whether he could have done anything preemptively to keep Dustin Pedroia from being ejected in Tuesday night’s loss to the Texas Rangers.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Pedroia took heated exception to a call by first-base umpire Paul Nauert that he had not checked his swing on a two-strike pitch from Rangers’ reliever Mike Adams (replays supported Pedroia’s contention that he had, indeed, held up).
Pedroia gestured at Nauert and pantomimed his swing while screaming his objections, and continued to yell from the dugout, which is normally an invitation to ejection. One curse was audible even in the press box. Nauert responded, but did not eject Pedroia.
In the top of the ninth, Pedroia walked slowly to his position -- typically, he jogs onto the field -- but did not look in the umpire’s direction. But when Red Sox reliever Craig Breslow hit David Murphy with a pitch in the top of the ninth, appealed to third-base umpire Doug Eddings that Murphy had swung on the pitch and lost that appeal, Pedroia re-engaged with Nauert and was quickly ejected.
Valentine ran onto the field at that point and in animated fashion continued the argument.
“Was pretty angry,’’ he said after the game, “and supporting my guy, and I probably said more to [Nauert] than other times when I’ve gotten thrown out, and he doesn’t throw me out -- unless I make a complete fool of myself or punch him. And I don’t like staying out on the field that long with my pitcher out on the mound.’’
Former Red Sox second baseman-turned-radio-host Lou Merloni said on his WEEI show Wednesday morning that Valentine should have confronted Nauert after the at-bat and might have saved Pedroia from being tossed by taking up the argument for him.
But when Valentine was presented that scenario Wednesday morning, it led to the following exchange:
Question: In hindsight, do you think there’s anything you could have done to prevent Pedroia from getting tossed yesterday, given how upset he was?
Valentine: I could have taken him out of the game.
Question: Given how upset he was from the dugout, any consideration...
Valentine: ...of taking him out of the game?
Question: No, of launching a preemptive strike on your part, maybe going to take up the battle for him before he got tossed?
Valentine: What are you, are you living in a fantasy world? You watching the game?
Question: I was watching the game. I saw him yelling from the...
Valentine: It’s not even worth answering.
Question: For you to go out and argue with the umpire, while he...
Valentine: When he went out on the field?
Question: No. When he was yelling from the dugout...
Valentine: I was yelling in front of him from the dugout. I was standing in front of him, yelling from the dugout. He was behind me, and I was in front of him, yelling.
OK, then. But how much of this alternate scenario is fantasy? Valentine sees Pedroia raging at ump as he’s walking back to dugout after the at-bat. He grabs him, tells him, “I got this,” gets in face of ump, either gets tossed or doesn’t get tossed, but gets his money’s worth. Then, when he gets back to the dugout, he says to Pedroia, ‘’OK, now keep your mouth shut. I need you in this game.’’