Tampa Bay Rays
Umpire's remark gives Rays a spark
David Price stood in front of his locker late Sunday afternoon nearly expressionless, which was a bit of a surprise for the reigning Cy Young Award winner who snapped a five-start winless streak with his first victory of the season.
But Price was still very much upset over what he said he heard home plate umpire Tom Hallion say as Price walked off the field after getting the last out in the seventh inning against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.
Price, with his emotions running toward angry, said Hallion dropped an unprovoked F-bomb.
"He yells at me to, 'Throw the ball over the f-ing plate,'" Price said.
Hallion denied the charge.
"I'll come right out bluntly and say he's a liar," Hallion told a pool reporter.
Several players in the Rays dugout said they heard Hallion utter a swear word, which caused a ruckus that led to Jeremy Hellickson's ejection and possibly contributed to the Rays' three-run eighth inning that propelled them to an 8-3 victory against the White Sox.
It was Tampa Bay's second straight win and the first victory of the year for Price.
A 20-game winner last year, Price turned in a gritty effort and pitched seven innings. He shut down the White Sox's offense after the third inning, which allowed the Rays to rally and made a winner out of Price.
But Price couldn't get past Hallion's comment. And when he learned of Hallion's denial, Price took to Twitter.
"Someone give me the definition of a coward please," Price tweeted.
It all began with a 2-2 pitch to Dewayne Wise with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. Price thought it was strike three. Hallion called it a ball.
Price got Wise to bounce back to him on the next pitch for the final out of the inning. Price walked off the field with his head down. He appeared to have yelled something as he started toward the dugout, but Price said he didn't say anything to Hallion, and Hallion said he didn't hear Price say anything to him.
"He might not have said anything, but he certainly gave enough body language to insinuate that he was (ticked) off," Hallion said.
That's when Price said Hallion offered his advice on how he should pitch.
"I didn't say a word to him. I wasn't even looking at him," Price said. "I was walking off the field with my head down and he yells at me to throw the ball over the f-ing plate, and our entire dugout heard that and that's why they all went nuts. And our entire dugout yelled at him, 'He wasn't even talking to you,' which I wasn't. Nothing I said even pertained to him."
Hallion denied Price's charge.
"I said, 'Just throw the ball.' That's all I said to him," Hallion said.
"I'm just telling you, he's lying," Hallion said. "It's plain and simple."
Hallion said he tossed Hellickson because he and Matt Moore were yelling at him from along the dugout fence.
Hellickson said he didn't know he was ejected until he walked into the clubhouse after the inning and was told to stay there.
"Rumor has it he might have taken the sword for somebody, I'm not sure," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
Both Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist said they heard Hallion say something as they were running off the field but couldn't or wouldn't confirm it was a curse word.
"I saw David walk off the mound and I think the umpire cussed at him first," Hellickson said. "I don't think anybody in the dugout agreed with that and let him know that."
When asked what Hallion said, Hellickson replied, "I heard an F-bomb, I think."
That was the last inning for Price, who threw 119 pitches and was only allowed to work the seventh inning because his pitch count didn't reach 100 in his previous two starts and because he was facing the bottom of the White Sox order.
A single by Zobrist snapped a 3-3 tie and the Rays got two more runs when Alex Rios dropped a fly ball in shallow right field with two outs and the bases loaded.
"That's what the ace of the staff does," Longoria said. "He goes out there and grinds through another inning and sets himself up for the win."
But the ace of the staff couldn't get past what he felt was an uncalled for lack of respect from the home-plate umpire.
"I don't know what he thinks he heard," Price said. "You can ask anybody that was sitting in the dugout and they all erupted as they should have when you hear an umpire speak to a player that way. Something has to be done about that, and that's why I told you guys (the media). That's terrible. If my own dad doesn't speak to me that way, some frickin' umpire's not going to speak to me that way. He wouldn't say it to me off the field."
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