BALTIMORE — David Ortiz needed a redo.
OK, the 3-and-0 pitch that was called a strike by plate umpire Tim Timmons in the seventh inning was a ball. The pitch was high. We get it. Bad call.
Ortiz had already thrown his bat aside and was ready to take his walk, but much to his surprise Timmons made him hang in. Ortiz struck out swinging against Jairo Ascencio.
Ortiz was still livid.
It looked like he berated Timmons, who allowed him to have his say. When Ortiz got to the visitor’s dugout in Camden Yards, he took a bat to the bullpen telephone, as debris flew everywhere.
The problem here is that Dustin Pedroia — you know, the little guy who just signed an eight-year, $110 million extension, the face of the franchise, the player the Red Sox can’t live without? — was sitting in the dugout minding his own business when Ortiz’s backswing almost hit him. That’s not to mention the debris that was flying thanks to Ortiz’s shattered bat and could have hit Pedroia in the eye.
This took place in a 7-2 game that the Red Sox were in command of.
Pedroia got in Ortiz’s face. It appeared Pedroia was reminding Ortiz of those points and to calm down, that he could get suspended for this.
Ortiz, who was tossed by Timmons, had to be restrained by teammates, coaches, and manager John Farrell.
Ortiz’s dugout reaction is what Major League Baseball will look at it. Yes there was frustration leading up to it.
“What I’m going to tell you is I have 17 years in the league and I don’t think I deserved to be disrespected like that,” Ortiz said. “If you want to get respect from the player, then you respect the player, and that was horrible. Both of them pitches, not just the one, but the second strike, too. I don’t mind going to first base. So why do you have to call pitches like that a strike?
“I don’t pitch. I don’t play defense. I hit. You’re not going to take my at-bats away from me.”
Ortiz probably didn’t realize in his rage how close he came to destroying Pedroia.
“[Pedroia] just didn’t want me to go crazy and make it worse,” Ortiz said. “That was horrible. People always focus on when we snap. That’s the reason why you snap. You always look like the bad guy. I’m not the bad guy. I’m just trying to do my job. Don’t take my at-bat away from me like that.
“When I’m walking away, [Timmons was] acting like he was right about the call. No, you wasn’t right. The whole planet saw you weren’t right. Don’t be giving me that [expletive]. You miss it, just tell me you miss it and I walk away. You’re not perfect. You’re human, don’t try to act like it was the right call. That was ball four.”
Fans and media weren’t on the field or in the dugout. They weren’t in Ortiz’s shoes, but the dugout display was scary.
“I mean, guys get frustrated. It’s part of the game,’’ said Pedroia. “I wanted to make sure David didn’t get too bad, so he wouldn’t get suspended. He’s the biggest part of our lineup. We can’t lose David for one game.
“I’m sure it looked funny — the smallest guy out there yelling at the biggest guy — but it’s part of the game. I go down there and snap sometimes. It happens.”
Maybe frustration had built up. Though Ortiz came in riding a seven-game hitting streak, hitting .385 in that span, he hasn’t driven in a run or hit a home run since July 10. He sandwiched two walks Saturday around a fly out to center in his first three plate appearances.
Ortiz just had enough. You always give Ortiz the benefit of the doubt because he plays with passion, but the dugout display was over the top.
At the very least, Ortiz will be fined for throwing equipment (he tossed his elbow pads) and destroying the phone. But who knows what else the league may rule here. Could there be a suspension? Why risk that as the team’s best hitter in a hotly contested playoff race.
Ortiz is having an excellent year. He’s hitting .321 with 19 homers and 65 RBIs. He entered last night’s game with an OPS of 1.000.
Blow your cool because of a high strike?
“I disagree with the whole situation,” Ortiz said. “That’s why I was angry. He tossed me when I was in the dugout. You don’t toss people in the dugout doing whatever I was doing, unless I’m saying something to you.
“I wasn’t screaming at him and I was upset and I’m swinging at everything in the dugout. That’s probably all I could hit at the time.”
About coming close on Pedroia, “I didn’t hit anybody. I know what I was swinging at.”
Does he think he might get suspended?
“What’s the argument going to be? Cause I have a good one,’’ he said. “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 playing to win. If you walk me, I walk. I have no problems with that. You’re not going to take the at-bat away from me. I hit, that’s all I do. I work really hard to be who I am at the plate. That was the worst call of the year right there. That was bad.”
Yes, it was.Nick Cafardo can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.