BOSTON -- Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon said he may have made incidental contact with plate umpire Tony Randazzo following his ejection Saturday afternoon, but contended he did not do anything to warrant disciplinary action by the commissioner's office.
Papelbon offered his version of what led to his ejection by Randazzo in the ninth inning of Saturday's 9-8, 14-inning win over the Oakland Athletics.
Papelbon was ejected after throwing a first-strike pitch to Ryan Sweeney just after a two-run single by pinch-hitter Conor Jackson had tied the score at 7. Sox catcher Jason Varitek had been ejected by Randazzo one batter before Jackson, after an RBI double by Cliff Pennington.
"From my perspective,'' Papelbon said, "I had my back turned and did not turn around. He's got his hands up, and I'm not even talking to him. I was talking to Salty (catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia). I said, 'Salty, 'Hey come out here. I need to know where that's at. I felt like some pitches I was not getting were strikes and I threw one that I felt like was a ball and then he called it a strike, and I more or less was trying to get Salty out here and say, 'Hey come talk to me, let's figure out this zone so I know how to go about this.' Because I had no idea what his zone was.
"I don't know, I guess he may have jumped to the conclusion that I was talking to him, and I felt like he threw his arms up in the air for no reason towards me, and then everything kind of unfolded the way they did. When he threw up his arms, and you know, started barking at me, I said, 'Tony, I'm not even talking to you. I'm talking to my catcher.'
"I guess he felt like I was coming back at him and I may have been showing up, but I had my back turned after I'd been talking to Salty, because, like I said, I had no idea about how to go after the hitter because I didn't know what the (strike) zone was.''
Randazzo had come out from behind the plate and taken a couple of steps toward the mound after Papelbon had turned from him. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who had just entered the game after Varitek's ejection, said he tried to tell Randazzo that he would "take care of it," and go to the mound to talk to Papelbon.
When Papelbon saw Randazzo throw up his hands and responded, he was ejected, then charged toward the plate. He acknowledged he may have brushed up against the umpire, but insisted it was incidental. "It's not like I pushed him or anything,'' he said.
"You know, I probably overreacted a little bit but you know it's hard to say that because I'm in the heat of the battle and all of a sudden I'm a base hit away from the game being tied up. Could I have done things or gone about things different? Of course. But in the heat of the battle, that's a lot easier said than done.
"Looking back on it now, do I wish I had gone about it in a little better of a manner? Yeah. But between the white lines, emotions always tend to intensify, it is what it is.''
Here is how Papelbon responded when asked if he had made contact with Randazzo.
"I don't believe so. If I did, it wasn't on purpose. I may have brushed up against him, but nothing like, you know, pushing him, or nothing to the point where, you know, I was trying to get physical with him by any means. No.''
Papelbon's ejection was the first of his big-league career. He said he has never been ejected at any level, amateur or pro.
"That inning was the culmination of a lot of things, man,'' he said. "Some bloop hits, just a lot of stuff that went on that inning that just boiled and boiled and boiled and kind of exploded for me. Do I wish I could have handled things a little better? Yeah, I do.''
"I don't have any concerns. I'm not worried about it. I'm out there competing, man. I can't do anything about that. The league's going to come down on me the way they want to, whether they believe me or not, but I wasn't trying to maliciously bump him or anything. I haven't looked at the replay or anything. I haven't looked at any of the pitches I threw. It's all in the past.''
Umpiring crew chief Brian Gorman told a pool reporter he did not have any comment because the umpires had not yet filed their report.
"We believe that Joe Torre wants us to reserve all comments and questions should be directed to the league,'' Gorman said.
As executive vice president for baseball operations, the position to which he was named this winter, Torre is in charge of on-field discipline.