On the day after Marlins Manager Ozzie Guillen yelled at Bryce Harper and called his actions involving a spat about the amount of pine tar on his bat “unprofessional,” Guillen still had pointed words about the exchange.
Guillen called Johnson after the Nationals’ 4-0 victory to discuss the incident. “It was a pretty brief call,” Johnson said. “I said it wasn’t a big deal. Enough said about it. It was an interesting exchange all around. That’s Oz.”
Guillen had a different – and, naturally, more profane – version of the phone call. But he also praised Johnson as one of the best managers in baseball.
“I tried to call him,” Guillen said. “He told me, ‘Get the [expletive] away from me.’ I don’t think Davey understand why I call him. Because I was just calling to say, ‘I don’t want to make a big deal about this. I don’t want to make a big scene. I think the kid 100 percent did something he shouldn’t.’ But I respect Davey. I love Davey. I think Davey’s one of the best baseball managers in the game, to be honest with you. I wish I had been with him once, he’s a great coach, a great manager for so many years. I think when you’re talking about baseball, Davey Johnson’s name has to come up.”
Johnson had one leftover complaint about how Guillen handled everything. He said he had taken exception to Guillen yelling at Harper while the game was going on.
“I just don’t like any time an opposing manager talks to my player when he’s up at the plate, has any kind of conversation with my hitter,” Johnson said. “That’s nothing I like to see happen in the ballgame.”
Guillen shot back at Johnson’s assertion from yesterday that he was trying to “intimidate” Harper. Guillen said he wanted Harper to decrease the amount of pine tar on his bat in earnest.
“I tried to intimidate Harper? Nope,” Guillen said. “When you try to intimidate people, I don’t say anything. I drill his [expletive]. That’s the way you intimidate people. What he did, I don’t know if you guys see it, I told him to clean up the bat because the bat is illegal. If I want somebody out, I would check the bat before warning him. He cleaned the bat and then he showed me the bat. A couple years ago, I might shove his [expletive] on his [expletive]. Right now I’m too old be fighting and talking. If he thinks I try to intimidate people, I never did. How am I going to intimidate people when I’m a 190-pound – well, that would be nice – a 200-pound weakling?”
Johnson said the issue had crossed in his mind. He was not worried about volatile Marlins starter Carlos Zambrano throwing at Harper tonight. “My guy [Edwin Jackson] throws harder than him, anyway,” Johnson said.
Guillen said he felt Harper had showed him up, and he asserted that Harper may face repercussions if he continues to act like he did yesterday. Guillen drifted into some pretty strange territory, really.
“I don’t want any problems,” Guillen said. “I just told the umpire, I just told the third base coach. Who cares what they think? I think I was very gentlemen for letting him know he was using something illegal. I don’t make a big deal out of it. They make a big deal out of it. Like I say, I like this kid. I think this kid is good for baseball. He’s going to be better. But if this kid continues to do that [expletive], he might not make it. Because they’re going to fool around with the wrong guy, and that wrong guy will kick his [expletive].
“He might not make it. And I love this kid. I think this kid is great for the game, plays the game right, plays the game hard. He’s got a chance to be one the greatest players in the game. But he’s only 19 years old, too. When you’re 19, you do things you shouldn’t do, right or wrong thing. I take that, too. He’s a baby, and that’s why I respect him. But what he did, if he would do that to Tony La Russa or somebody else like that? He’s gonna be in trouble. To me, I just laugh. I called him a couple names, that’s it.”