And so it was, in a game Wednesday between Beltre’s Rangers and the visiting Marlins, that the veteran third baseman was taking his warm-up swings closer to home plate than where the on-deck circle was situated. When crew chief Gerry Davis told him to return to the designated location, Beltre simply picked up the on-deck circle and moved it to where he had been.
That was too much for Davis, who ejected Beltre and then, when Texas manager Jeff Banister came out to argue, tossed him as well. The eighth-inning incident provided one of the wackier moments of the season.
Beltre may have felt emboldened to attempt the stunt because, with Miami holding an 18-6 lead in the eighth, the game had long since gotten away from Texas. After the game, a 22-10 Marlins win, the four-time all-star gave his version of events.
“The home-plate umpire told me Gerry wanted me to move,” Beltre said (via the Dallas Morning News). “I said, ‘Why? I don’t want to get hit. I stand here every day, I’ve been standing here for a lot of years and I’ve been standing here when he was umpiring home plate and he didn’t say nothing. Everybody stands in the same spot. Why do I have to move? I don’t want to get hit.’
“Then the second umpire came down and he told me I need to move. I told Gerry I have no problem but I don’t want to get hit. I’ve been hit when I stand over there. He said, ‘Well I don’t care. You need to be on top of the mat.’ So I pulled the mat where I was at and he threw me out.
“If you see the video, you see everybody standing in the same spot,” Beltre continued. “Why was that a problem today? I’ve been standing in the same spot the whole series.”
Before his ejection, Beltre went 3-for-3 at the plate, bringing his career total to 2,996 hits. He will soon become the 31st MLB player to reach 3,000, and the first since Ichiro Suzuki got there with the Marlins last year.
“You’ve got to be a really good hitter, have sustained being a really good hitter for a long time,” Banister said before the game. “You don’t just show up.”
Beltre said he was “not trying to be funny” by moving the on-deck circle, but plenty of others got a laugh out of it. The 38-year-old Dominican was already one of MLB’s most beloved characters, and Wednesday’s episode drew him even further into fans’ hearts.