Brett Lawrie of the Toronto Blue Jays is having the worst luck in the world hitting umpires with baseball equipment.
In his second game back from a suspension for a tantrum that resulted in an umpire getting hit with Lawrie's batting helmet after an angry bounce, Lawrie lined a pitch foul that struck first base umpire Andy Fletcher in the left arm during the fourth inning.
Fletcher briefly left the game for treatment but was back by the fifth. The Tampa Bay Rays won the game 8-5.
While the incident a week ago created much conjecture about how much responsibility Lawrie should take for his helmet hitting ump Bill Miller in the hip after Miller made two bad calls to incur Lawrie's rage, this one is just an odd coincidence. Lawrie had no beef with Fletcher. And even if he did, it's hard to imagine even a major leaguer having that kind of aim. (Joe West probably would have accused Lawrie of doing it on purpose. Good thing he was umping another base.)
''It seemed like the further he moved, the more the ball chased him,'' Lawrie said. ''Just a bit of bad luck that it hit him.''
Just a bit. What's funny, or probably not funny if you're Lawrie, is that he had another dispute with a different umpire in the eighth.
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Rob Drake ruled Lawrie was out as part of a double play, saying Lawrie's momentum on a slide carried him past second base, and that Lawrie did not tag second on his way back to first on a fly to center by Yan Gomes. Uncertain of what was going on, Lawrie ran up to Drake to inquire. Lawrie got animated, but he kept his helmet on this time. He also was escorted away quickly by coach Torey Lovullo.
''All I wanted to know was what was going on,'' Lawrie said. ''I didn't know what happened. For me, I didn't go to third base. I slid in, popped up and went back (to first). If I'm getting called out for something, I'm just wondering why I'm getting called out. I just didn't get an answer tonight.''
Regardless: Is that a No. 13, or a target on Lawrie's back?
The video evidence does not seem to support Drake's call, but he might have been fooled by the shuffling of Lawrie's feet around the bag. It looked indecisive and made him appear to have not re-touched the bag. But if he doesn't take a step past the bag, which he didn't, he doesn't have to re-touch. It was the wrong call, but an explainable mistake. That's not how every observer sees it, though. The Brady and Lang duo on 590-AM The Fan out of Toronto said the ump was right and Lawrie was wrong, and that the Jays need to do something to check Lawrie's emotions. "This is not a one-time incident. It's a trend."
Lawrie retorted on Twitter (not really the best place to do it, but ... ):
For all u people who think I was goin at that umpire tonight ?That is totally false.. I just wanted to know Wat the call was so chill out...
And at the radio station specifically, Lawrie said:
So, yeah! But Lawrie, telling other people to chill out? How ironic, Alanis. He hasn't given himself any margin for error after the Miller helmet toss. He got the benefit of a doubt and a light suspension. But the umps are going to be watching. However, as long as he keeps his helmet attached, the Jays shouldn't discourage Lawrie too much from being emotional. We might want robot umpires, but not robot players.
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