Pedroia had enough

Rob Bradford
August 20, 2008 - 4:44 pm

  BALTIMORE -- Dustin Pedroia had never been thrown out of game. Not in Little League, high school, college, the minor leagues, or his relatively brief major league career. His temper had led him away from a promising tennis career in his pre-teen years, and an occasional remark to the men in blue might have cropped up from time to time, but the until line had never been crossed. So when home plate umpire Bob Davidson handed Pedroia's first career ejection in the eighth inning Tuesday night, you had an idea there might be something more than the obvious at play. And there was. The Red Sox second baseman had had enough of what he perceived has been a season full of uneven umpiring. "I'm usually in control about stuff like that. But this year the umpires have taken control over the time of the game and stuff like that, and that affects our results," Pedroia said. "If I have a good at-bat and the umpire dictates whether I'm out or safe, it's frustrating. And they don't care, they have no one to answer to and I think that's a shame." The primer for Pedroia's reaction to a season of umpiring, which more than just the second-year second baseman has muttered about, came when he was caught off guard by first base umpire Alfonso Marquez' judgment that Pedroia had swung on a check swing. After running halfway down the line, the infielder was shocked to learn of Marquez' decision, shooting a reaction his way. Marquez took a somewhat proactive response to Pedroia's disapproval; simulating the swing he thought the Sox batter made. So, after grounding out, Pedroia passed along his thoughts while running by Davidson. The home plate ump proceeded to toss the Boston hitter while he was jogging toward the Red Sox dugout. "It was just one of those deals where I checked my swing, was going to first and I didn't think I swung. I just looked up and heard the crowd's reaction and (Marquez) kind of showed me up with the swing," Pedroia said. "It was very unprofessional by him. You just don't do that. I ended up grounding out and kind of held my composure until I got to home plate and the home plate umpire, who was horrendous all night, I had choice words for him and he threw me out of the game.'€ "There are certain guys who have been great all year, but a case like (Tuesday) night there was no need to show a player up like that. I know I've only been in the big leagues a year and a half, but there's no need for that. I've never done anything to him, so he shouldn't respond like to players. We're all professionals here and if he feels the need to show people up he shouldn't be doing this. He needs to be more professional. "I've never run into a situation like that. That was very unprofessional of that guy. I don't know if Major League Baseball is going to step in and say Hey you can't be treating players like that. I walk back to the dugout and the guy throws me out and I'm not even looking at him. There's two cases. If both teams are on the umpires all game there's obviously something wrong. I don't think 50 players are wrong and every coach is wrong. It' s obvious they're wrong. You see it all around the major leagues. It's a part of the game." While the run-in offered another first for Pedroia, it was the bigger picture when it came to the umpires' approach since beginning of May. The notion that the umpires have expanded their strike zone in order to move games along has lived with the Red Sox for some time.  But while many of the members of a Red Sox lineup have been disgruntled concerning the umpires limiting their trademark patient approach, players like Pedroia haven't been standing idly by. The second baseman is just one of virtually an entire group of starters who have been swinging at the first pitch more this year than last. Kevin Youkilis, for example, is swinging at the first pitch 15.2 percent of the time this year, compared to 11.2 percent a season ago. "I think guys' approach at the plate have changed," said Pedroia. "I'm more aggressive, absolutely. I'm not going to get myself into a situation where an umpire is going to dictate whether I'm out or safe. That's how you have to do it now until they go back to the regular zone, I guess."