Ump apologizes for contact with Ordonez
Tigers, Schrieber moving on after Wednesday's incident
MINNEAPOLIS -- Major League Baseball is not expected to issue disciplinary action against umpire Paul Schrieber following an incident with Tigers manager Jim Leyland on Wednesday night stemming from a bizarre scene in which Schrieber put his hand on Magglio Ordonez to try to direct him back toward the dugout following a disputed third strike.
Pat Courtney, Major League Baseball's vice president for media relations, said in an e-mail Thursday afternoon that the incident and surrounding statements had been examined.
"It was reviewed," Courtney said. "[Schrieber] issued an apology pregame and the matter is considered closed."
Courtney said he believed that included all parties involved, including Leyland and Ordonez.
Ordonez, Leyland and Schrieber all tried to diffuse the tension Thursday from the heated argument that has sprouted into a discussion on contact between umpires and players.
While both Leyland and Ordonez believe Schrieber made a mistake, neither believe he intended to cause trouble when he used his hand to try to direct Ordonez back towards the Tigers' dugout in Wednesday's game against the Twins. Leyland, moreover, tried to smooth over any hard feelings following his livid argument with Schrieber, and suggested the veteran umpire shouldn't be suspended for what he did.
"I deserve to get fined," Leyland said. "I got ejected. I argued. But in all fairness, I hope the umpire doesn't get suspended, because I don't think the man did it with any malice, trying to create a problem. It was just a reaction. It was a reaction that he shouldn't have had, but I don't think it warrants any type of discipline.
"I hope, at the most, we get fines and turn the page. I like the umpire. I like that whole crew. I want to stick up for them, because I think that's important. Everybody makes mistakes. He made a mistake, but it wasn't a vicious mistake or anything."
That said, Leyland believed it was a situation that warranted his response.
The incident happened in the seventh inning Wednesday, right after Miguel Cabrera's three-run homer had put the Tigers in front. Ordonez took a called third strike he thought was inside, and stood in the batter's box for an extra couple seconds to get in a word with Schrieber.
Schrieber placed his left hand in the middle of Ordonez's back and tried to direct him towards the first-base dugout.
"He just pushed me in stride, and that's it," Ordonez said Thursday morning. "It's over. I don't think he had any bad intention to push me."
Schrieber read a prepared statement before Thursday's game.
"In yesterday's game, after I called Magglio Ordonez out on strikes, I inadvertently placed my hand on his back and ushered him away from home plate," Schrieber said, "so that I would not have to eject him for arguing balls and strikes. I should not have placed my hands on him, period. For doing so, I apologize to both Magglio Ordonez and the Detroit Tigers."
It was not clear if an umpire touching a player is a rules violation or a cause for disciplinary action. The Official Baseball Rules has a section called, "General Instructions to Umpires," which includes the following paragraph:
"You are the only official representative of baseball on the ball field. It is often a trying position which requires the exercise of much patience and good judgment, but do not forget that the first essential in working out of a bad situation is to keep your own temper and self-control."
Crew chief Joe West, who was umpiring at third base when the incident occurred, emphasized that Schrieber was trying to avoid a larger conflict.
"He shouldn't have done it," West said, "but he was trying to keep the man in the game."
Schrieber's umpiring career included several seasons in the Minor Leagues, including games when Ordonez was coming up more than a decade ago.
When asked later how much force was behind Schrieber's hand, Ordonez said, "He didn't push. He went [with a hand outstretched] like, 'Hey.' You can't do that. But like I said, he didn't have any bad intentions, like [with a pushing motion], 'Get out of here.'
"I don't have a problem. I think when you're in the game, the excitement [takes over]. I don't think he had any intention to push me."
Ordonez didn't have a problem. Still, if it was the other way around, with player putting a hand on an umpire?
"I'd be home [suspended]," Ordonez said with a smile.
It was the supposed push, Leyland said, not the called third strike, that brought Leyland storming out of the dugout.
"I never said a word about the pitch," Leyland said. "I never even went out, because I thought Magglio was going to stand there for a second and say the pitch was inside. There was really nothing going on. And when I saw him put his hand on him and kind of push him towards the dugout, I lost it. He can't do that."
The view was similar from the other dugout.
"I know Mr. Leyland was very fired up about that, to say the least," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It didn't look too kosher, let's put it that way. I think it was meant to be harmless, but it's really not."
All parties had to move on quickly with a Thursday afternoon game. Schrieber was umpiring at third base, according to the umpiring rotation. Leyland, who watched the final six innings of Wednesday's 13-inning Tigers loss from the visiting clubhouse, was back in the dugout. Ordonez was in right field, batting third for the first time in more than a week.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.