A rhubarb in spring: Mariners' Lee ejected from Cactus League game
RYAN DIVISH; Staff writer
TUCSON, Ariz. – On your list of things you never expected to see at a spring training game, a player charging the mound, the benches clearing and a player being ejection have to be near the top.
That’s what happened in the third inning Monday at Tucson Electric Park, where Mariners starter Cliff Lee was ejected after throwing a pair of pitches near the head of Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Chris Snyder.
After the second close pitch, Snyder tossed his bat away and started walking toward the mound. Both benches cleared and both bullpens came spilling in from the outfield. There was no real pushing or shoving. It was mostly just jawing between players.
Lee was ejected by plate umpire Brian Knight.
Shawn Kelley replaced Lee and inherited a 2-0 count. Snyder later doubled off the wall in left-center field, driving in a run.
Lee, who had thrown only 46 pitches, went to another field at the complex to throw the 15 pitches he needed to reach his pitch count.
It was a weird start to an odd and ugly game the Mariners lost, 13-5. Seattle pitchers gave up 19 hits.
After the game, Lee said the offending pitches weren’t intentional.
“I was trying to go inside and a couple got away from me,” he said. “The guy hitting got mad, came toward the mound and I got thrown out of the game in the process. That’s it in a nutshell.”
Lee, who allowed four runs on six hits in 22/3 innings, said he was fighting his control – noting that he walked the first batter on five pitches – and was trying to pitch inside to right-handers, including Snyder.
“I had been trying to go inside all day and it was kind of leaking back on the plate,” Lee said. “I had one more out and one more inning. I was just really making sure I got in on the righties.”
That, he said, was how he was working against Snyder.
“The first one was maybe eight or nine inches off the plate and second one really got away from me,” he said. “I think I overthrew that one a little bit. It happens.”
Lee seemed surprised that Snyder was so upset.
“You are going to have to ask him that,” Lee said. “I don’t know what he was thinking.”
Snyder said he was thought he was being thrown at intentionally.
“Yeah,” he said. “He went in on the first pitch and the next one was at my head.”
Snyder said he got “caught up in the moment” when he started walking to the mound. But he wasn’t about to apologize for it.
“He threw a ball at my head,” he said with his voice rising. “Stand in there and have a ball thrown at your head.”
But the third inning wasn’t the first confrontation between the two. In the first inning, the two collided when Lee covered home after an RBI single by Chris Young. Snyder, who was on deck, was running to the plate to tell baserunner Mark Reynolds to slide.
Both Lee and Snyder were concentrating and didn’t see the other. Their collision left both on the ground.
“I don’t know what happened,” Lee said. “I didn’t see it. I was watching the ball. I don’t know. I just hit the ground.”
Snyder also didn’t see Lee, but didn’t think there was anything to be upset about.
“I didn’t see a problem,” Snyder said. “There’s two guys going to where they need to be and we collided.”
Snyder claimed he got the worse end of the collision.
“He got me good,” he said. “He charley-horsed my leg. I can still feel it. It hurts every time I squat. He got me in the leg and then he threw a ball at my head. He’s up two-nothing at me.”
Both Mariners manger Don Wakamatsu and catcher Rob Johnson declined to talk about the ejection.
But the Diamondbacks had plenty to say.
“The first pitch he came up and in on him,” Reynolds said. “We were hitting him around a little bit and the next pitch was just uncalled for in that situation. It’s spring training. If you’re going to hit somebody, just stay below the waist. Don’t head-hunt. Don’t do any of that. It’s a bad reputation to have. It’s bush league. Stuff like that doesn’t need to happen any time, especially in spring training.”
The teams will play each other again in five days in Peoria, and Lee could be scheduled to start again. Snyder laughed off any talk about retaliation or repercussions.
“I don’t see a reason for it,” Snyder said. “Guys are going out there to (get) their work in. There’s no time to start throwing balls at people, clearing the benches. There’s no time for that in spring training.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.