ST. PETERSBURG -- For the second time in as many months, Tigers manager Jim Leyland has been ejected by Gary Cederstrom's umpiring crew. This time, it was a stolen-base call by second-base umpire Marty Foster that brought Leyland storming out of the dugout in Monday's 5-0, no-hit loss to the Rays.
Foster didn't need long to hand Leyland his second ejection of the season, but it wasn't B.J. Upton's third-inning stolen base or second baseman Will Rhymes' tag that brought it about. Leyland said it was a false accusation, and it set him off against Foster and later Cederstrom, the crew chief.
Later, it set him off discussing it with reporters.
"I had some sunflower seeds in when I was talking," Leyland said. "Some sprayed on him, and he indicated that I deliberately spit on him, and I'm not going to take that from anybody. I'm not going to do it. I'm not going to take that kind of accusation from anybody. That's a blatant lie."
The same umpiring crew handled the Tigers' June visit to Atlanta, where a called third strike on Johnny Damon ended a Tigers comeback in the ninth inning on June 26. Replays showed the full-count pitch was off the outside corner. With the bases loaded, it would've been a game-tying walk, but instead was a game-ending strikeout.
After that game, Leyland challenged reporters to ask Cederstrom about his call. Cederstrom didn't say the call was incorrect, but said that after watching the replay, "It didn't look good."
The next day, a call at third base by Fieldin Culbreth sent Leyland storming out to argue. He eventually earned his ejection, but also got his chance to vent at Cederstrom.
Monday's call didn't decide the game, far from it. Upton tried to steal second base after a one-out walk and seemingly had it with a wide throw from catcher Gerald Laird. However, Rhymes corralled the throw and tagged Upton on his upper body as he went by.
Foster ruled that Upton got his foot into second ahead of the tag. Replays suggested otherwise.
Leyland could live with that. Before Cederstrom's controversial call last month, there was Jim Joyce's call at first base that spoiled what would've been a perfect game by Armando Galarraga. But Leyland was livid when Foster said he'd put the spitting in his report.
"Now, did some of the sunflower seeds spray on his shirt? Yes, they did, without any question," Leyland said. "[But] I don't even spit on the ground. I'm not going to take that. I'm tired of protecting umpires, tired of not being able to say anything. I'm defending myself.
"If they want to kick me out, that's fine, I don't care about that, because it sprayed on his shirt. But when you start accusing somebody of deliberately doing something, you better be careful. I don't give a care what he says, and I don't give a care about what anybody else thinks when they read it in the [Commissioner's] office. I'm tired of not saying anything. I don't care that he missed the play. That's part of the game. When you make an accusation that's a total, blatant lie, that's upsetting to me."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.