It wasn’t that he lingered at home plate, or waved his arms a little bit, or took his time ambling out of the batter’s box to make it very clear that he was not happy with the called strike three.
Bryce Harper was ejected because of whatever he muttered over his shoulder while walking back to the Nationals' dugout in the 12th inning of a 5-4 loss to the New York Mets on Thursday night. It was his first ejection of the season, and came six days after the star outfielder said “there is no reason” to get ejected after a confrontation with home-plate umpire Laz Diaz in Atlanta. That instance did not lead to an ejection, even as Harper and Diaz exchanged words throughout the game.
Thursday’s run-in with D.J. Reyburn did lead to Harper getting tossed, and sent Nationals Manager Dave Martinez bounding out of the dugout in defense of his player.
“He was walking away,” Martinez said. “I mean I don’t know what he said, I haven’t talked to him. But he was walking away, it should be a done deal, whatever. When the umpire threw him out I was really surprised.”
Harper had already left the clubhouse once reporters entered after the game. But it seemed clear that he was also surprised by the ejection, as he surged back at Reyburn, yelling with his arms outstretched. That is when Martinez came onto the field to restrain Harper and yell at Reyburn himself. Harper did not calm down, and third base coach Bob Henley came in to hold him back from Reyburn while Martinez continued to argue. Martinez said that Reyburn told him, amid the shouting, that Harper was ejected because he “said some words.” Harper appeared to be pleading that he did not say anything as he left the field.
Martinez was not ejected, but still shook his head in frustration as he walked back to his perch on the dugout steps. Harper was 1-for-5 in the game with a walk and towering flyout to the warning track in right field. Shortly after Harper was removed from the game, Anthony Rendon grounded out to shortstop to seal the Nationals' extra-innings loss.
“You’re up there battling, if it’s a ball and you think it’s a ball and you get rung up, you’re going to get heated, it’s part of competing,” Martinez said. “And he walked away. I don’t think he showed him up at all, I really don’t, and D.J. thought he did.”
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