Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Friday that the incident that occurred between him and the umpires following Washington’s 1-0 loss Thursday at New York had “absolutely nothing to do” with a controversial play that took place in the top of the ninth inning.
But when asked what he thought of the ninth inning play, Rizzo responded: “Not going to answer one question about the incident.”
Rizzo, who addressed reporters prior to the start of Washington’s interleague opener at Baltimore, declined to answer any questions regarding what exactly transpired between he and the umpiring crew that officiated Thursday’s game because of Major League Baseball’s ongoing investigation into the matter.
The New York Daily News reported Thursday that the umpiring crew filed a report with MLB after the game regarding a verbal altercation with Rizzo that occurred as the umpires were leaving the field.
With one out and a man on second in the top of the ninth, Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth hit a sharp grounder to third. It appeared that Werth either beat the throw to first or that the throw pulled the first baseman off the bag. But first base umpire Phil Cuzzi called Werth out.
Washington manager Jim Riggleman came out to argue Cuzzi’s decision, and after the final out was recorded moments later, several Nationals players, including veteran catcher Ivan Rodriguez, came out of the dugout and directed comments toward the umpires as they left the field. Reportedly, the verbal altercation between Rizzo and the umpires occurred soon thereafter.
Rizzo said he contacted Joe Torre, MLB’s executive vice president for baseball operations, immediately after the incident to inform Torre of his version of the events.
Torre “assured me that, despite a lot of the reports in the media, this by no means is an investigation against Mike Rizzo,” Rizzo said. “This is an investigation of what happened last night after the game.
“With that said, like I said, after the incident I was proactive. I called Joe Torre about it, informed him of it and right now it is an active investigation in the hands of Joe Torre. I trust Joe Torre explicitly, and I know he’ll do the right thing by it, and we’ll see the results afterward.”
When asked exactly took place between he and the umpires after Thursday’s game, Rizzo cited the ongoing MLB investigation as the reason why he could not go into detail on the matter.
“One other point I wanted to make was that it had absolutely nothing to do with the play at first base in the ninth inning,” Rizzo said. “What happened post game had absolutely nothing to do with arguing or anything to do with the play that happened at first base in the ninth inning.”
Rizzo then was asked what did prompt the incident.
“I’m not going to answer any questions because it’s an ongoing investigation,” Rizzo said. “I just wanted to make those points clear to everybody because there’s been a lot of misinformation about what’s going on, and I wanted to clear it up.”
Rizzo also declined to answer whether he ran into the umpiring crew as he was headed down to the Nationals’ clubhouse.
When asked if he had a timeline for when to expect a resolution on the matter, Rizzo said he had spoken with Torre on Friday afternoon and that Torre would handle the matter at his own pace.
“My job is to stick up for the whole organization,” Rizzo said. “I’ve always got the manager’s and the coaches’ and the players’ back. And whenever I need to put myself on the line to do so, that’s my job so I’m willing to do it.”