NEW YORK -- Joe West, the major leagues' senior umpire, has been suspended for three days for comments he made about Texas third baseman Adrian Beltre.
In a USA Today report published June 20 timed to coincide with the umpire's 5,000th regular-season game, West said "it's got to be Adrian Beltre" when asked who was the biggest complainer in the major leagues.
"Every pitch you call that's a strike, he says, 'Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!' I had a game with him recently and the pitch was right down the middle. He tells me, 'That ball is outside,'" West was quoted as saying.
"I told him, 'You may be a great ballplayer, but you're the worst umpire in the league. You stink,'" West also was quoted as saying.
Beltre told reporters Tuesday he thought West's suspension was unnecessary and that West told him he was kidding when he worked a Rangers series in early July.
The World Umpires Association said Tuesday that West was serving the first game of the suspension. It said Major League Baseball told the union in an Aug. 3 letter the discipline was in response to an "appearance of lack of impartiality."
"Joking interactions between umpires and players are a routine part of the game," the union said in a statement. "We disagree strongly with the decision to punish Joe West simply for sharing a humorous exchange with a player."
MLB did not immediately comment.
The 64-year-old West made his big league debut in September 1976 and trails only Bill Klemm (5,375) and Bruce Froemming (5,163) among regular-season games worked. West's 123 postseason games are 10 behind Gerry Davis' record.