KANSAS CITY -- All it took was for plate umpire Mike Estabrook to circle around and face catcher Jason Kendall to exchange unpleasantries. Ned Yost was out of the dugout and, within seconds, he'd been given his first ejection as Royals manager. This was in the third inning of the Royals' 5-4 loss to the Angels on Thursday. Kendall was objecting to a Zack Greinke pitch to Torii Hunter that was called a ball by Estabrook instead of strike three. "He got in my face, and it was unprofessional what he did," Kendall said.
As Yost explained, verbal exchanges between an umpire and a catcher go on constantly, but fans usually aren't aware of it because the arguing parties stay in their places. "The catcher will say something but he never turns his head back, and the umpire will usually jaw back and stay right behind him," Yost said. "And that's fine. That's how they handle things. But to step out in front and make a bit of a scene isn't right." So Yost let Estabrook have it, making finger-wagging points well after he'd been ejected for the 23rd time in his managerial career. "I'll never let an umpire show up one of my players, and that's exactly what he was doing," Yost said. It wasn't Estabrook's first argument of the day. When Scott Podsednik slapped a pitch foul on a 0-2 pitch in the first inning, Angels manager Mike Scioscia claimed Podsednik had bunted the ball and it should be a strikeout. Scioscia remained in the dugout, but a shouting match ensued. Two innings later, it was Kendall jawing at Estabrook. "He missed the pitch, it was a strike. Zack made a good pitch in a situation that was big and he missed it," Kendall said. "So we're talking a little bit. I'm not one of those guys who's going to stand out there and turn around. It's the first time it's ever happened to me and I just told him, 'Get out of my face.' And Ned came out." Greinke typically gave the situation an unexpected turn after the game, praising Estabrook's pitch-calling in the afternoon. "It was a close pitch, and at the time I thought it was a strike, but if you look at the whole game of work, he was actually maybe [one of] the top three umpires I've had this year," Greinke said. "Yeah, that one might have been questionable, but through the course of the game, he didn't miss very many pitches and actually did a very good job today." It was also odd that Yost and Kendall, who were vigorous defenders of umpire Jim Joyce after his perfect-game call in Detroit, were the guys criticizing Estabrook.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.