Nobody told umpire Marty Foster it was the last day of February. No matter that spring training games aren't even a week underway, Foster was in midseason form by ejecting New York Yankees catcher Chris Stewart in the second inning Thursday during Grapefruit League action.
Video replays show that Stewart appeared to beat out an infield grounder for a single after Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes bounced a throw to Edwin Encarnacion at first base. But the umpire disagreed. A discussion ensued and Stewart — who never appeared to get animated — continued to argue as he walked toward the Yankees dugout. Before he made it inside, Foster gave him the heave-ho. Coach Mick Kelleher acted like he couldn't believe it and Joe Girardi popped out of the dugout to find out what the problem was.
The encounter became even more mysterious after Stewart told Yankees beat writer Erik Boland of Newsday:
Stewart said he didn't curse and doesn't know why he was thrown out of the game
— Erik Boland (@eboland11) February 28, 2013
OK. It seems to me that it's among the unwritten rules of baseball that you have be pret-ty unprofessional to get yourself kicked out of a spring training game. It's unusual for anyone to get that riled up over anything that happens during the spring. Now, it's possible Stewart isn't telling the whole truth; he's trying to secure a job with the Yankees and getting yourself thrown out of a spring game isn't going to help him. Of course, lying about it won't help either, and Kelleher could say if he swore at the ump or not. It's also possible that Foster misunderstood what he thought he heard. It's just ... strange that it came to this. To throw somebody out of a spring game, it should be obvious to everyone.
It's not unprecedented for an umpire to kick a player out of a spring game. It is rare, though. In 2012, an umpire named John Tumpane kicked Jeff Francoeur out of a Cactus League game, according to Closecallsports.com, which has tracked ejections since 2008 for a fantasy game. Based on their data, you might not be surprised to hear that Foster has a total of 43 ejections since '08, the third-most among umps.
It only means that Foster has a tendency to throw people out. You messed with the wrong guy, Stewart!