BALTIMORE -- The battered remains of the wall phone connecting the visitors dugout to the press box at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the instrument upon which Boston Red Sox DH David Ortiz took out his frustration Saturday night with several vicious swings of his bat, were wrapped in a plastic shroud after the game.
But somewhere in the greater Baltimore area, a phone installer is likely to smile upon receiving the news that while Ortiz's bat did not survive its seventh-inning encounter with the phone, the bat splintering into pieces while Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia took cover under a towel, the phone somehow did.
"It rang," said Boston manager John Farrell, not quite believing it himself. "Somebody called down."
By the end of the game, a 7-3 Red Sox win, Ortiz had calmed down, but the circumstances of his 10th career ejection set off an angry postmortem in which he minced no words in castigating plate umpire Tim Timmons for what Ortiz said "may have been the worst call of the year."
Ortiz was at the plate with a 3-and-0 count against Baltimore reliever Jairo Asencio, when he backed out of the batter's box at the same time Asencio delivered a pitch that upon repeated viewings on replay was clearly high. Ortiz said he had not called time.
"No, no, it was a ball," Ortiz said. "If the catcher (Matt Wieters) let it go, it would have hit [Timmons] in the face."
Ortiz was incredulous when Timmons called it a strike, barking at the umpire. He became more agitated when Timmons also called the next pitch, which appeared out of the zone, another strike, and became inconsolable when he swung at the next pitch, which was down and in, to strike out.
"I don't know what to do," Ortiz said. "I swung at a pitch that was on the ground."
Ortiz was visibly upset as he returned to the dugout. As soon as he descended down the steps, he took aim at the phone, one of two on the wall near the runway to the clubhouse. The top one, which took the brunt of the damage, is the phone to the press box. The other is the phone to the bullpen.
It was at that point, Ortiz said, that he was ejected, which caused him to storm back up the stairs onto the field. It took Farrell and coaches Torey Lovullo and Brian Butterfield to restrain him, and when he returned to the dugout, Pedroia gave him an earful. The second baseman said he was appealing to Ortiz not to do anything that might get him suspended.
"He's the biggest part of our lineup," Pedroia said. "We can't lose David for one game. I was trying to get him calm. I'm sure it was pretty funny, the smallest guy out there taking on the biggest guy."
Ortiz's anger was provoked less by the pitch calls, he said, than Timmons' insistence that he hadn't missed the pitch.
"The funny thing is, he wants to act like it was the right call," Ortiz said. "I don't play that. I don't pitch. I don't play defense. I hit. You're not going to take my at-bats away from me, period."
There are plenty of times, Ortiz said, when an umpire will admit to a player he missed a call. He said that earlier in the game, Timmons had done exactly that when approached by an agitated Ryan Dempster, who wondered how Timmons had called an 0-and-2 pitch a ball, while heading back to the dugout. Dempster confirmed that Timmons told him he had missed it.
"That disarms you pretty quick," Dempster said.
Ortiz received no such satisfaction.
"That was horrible," he said. "People always focus on when we snap. We're not snapping every day out there. There's a reason why you snap, you know what I'm saying? You always look like the bad guy. I'm not a bad guy. I'm trying to do my job. You don't take my at-bat away from me like that.
"When I'm walking away, I'm telling him he was acting like he was right about the call. No, he wasn't. He wasn't right. Don't be giving me that BS. If you miss it, tell me you missed it and I'll walk away. I don't have a problem with that. You're not perfect. You're human, you know what I'm saying. But don't act like you made the right call. It was ball four."
Farrell said he does not expect Ortiz to face further discipline.
Ortiz said if it should become a disciplinary matter, he'll be prepared. "All I've got to tell you, I've got 17 years in the league and I don't think I deserve disrespect like that," he said. "You want to get respect from a player, you respect the player, and that was horrible. Both of those pitches.
"Pitchers have been semi-intentionally walking me since '09. I don't mind going to first base. So what was the situation you've got to call pitches like that strikes?"
What happens if MLB pursues it further?
"I want to hear what that argument is going to be," Ortiz said. "I have a good one. When a situation like that happens, MLB should do something about it because that was horrible.
"We're not playing this game for fun, we're trying to win, and if you walk me, I walk. I've got no problem with that. I hit, that's all I do. And I work really hard to be who I am at the plate. That may have been the worst call of the year right there. That was bad. Definitely."
It remains to be seen if anyone will be billed for the damage to the phone.
"An interesting night," Farrell said.