CINCINNATI -- Reds first baseman Joey Votto received a two-game suspension and an undisclosed fine on Friday from Major League Baseball for what was termed "inappropriate actions" after his ejection by home-plate umpire Bill Welke during Wednesday's game against the Pirates.
In an impassioned retort to the development, Votto announced his intention to appeal the suspension levied by Joe Garagiola, Jr., MLB's senior vice president of standards and on-field operations.
"In this instance, I disagree with the suspension. I disagree with the ejection," Votto said. "At no point did I misbehave before the ejection. At no point was I disrespectful. On many occasions … there was politeness on the field. I went over and above to be respectful and unfortunately, I'm put in a situation where I now have to defend myself publicly."
During the eighth inning of a 5-4 loss to Pittsburgh, Votto represented the go-ahead run as he batted with two men on while Cincinnati was trailing by two runs. After he took a 1-1 pitch for a called strike by Welke, Votto asked for timeout and it was denied. When he turned to manager Bryan Price in the dugout to appeal, Welke ejected Votto.
Furious about being ejected, Votto slammed his helmet to the ground and screamed in Welke's face before being separated by another umpire and coaches. Price was also ejected.
"On video, you can see I said 'Can I please have time?' I used the word please multiple times," Votto said. "[Welke] looked at me and said 'no, you can't have time.' To me, we have in Major League Baseball a batters' box rule. We're obligated to stay inside of the batters' box to keep pace of play going. I'm not going to step out of the box and disagree with pace of play. I asked him again 'can I please have time?' not understanding that he would say no to me. He said 'no.'
"I felt boxed in as a person. I'm a regular person, boxed in not only physically, but metaphorically in this scenario -- the most intense part of the game. I couldn't step away and get back to neutral, mentally, so I didn't take the called strike and carry that to the next pitch because I care so much about the preceding pitch. And he wouldn't grant it to me. I appealed to the manager and he threw me out."
Earlier in the game, it appeared that Votto showed displeasure with Welke's strike zone. He had been called out on strikes and had a strikeout swinging already on Wednesday. Votto denied that he and Welke were sparring verbally over balls and strikes.
"The first at-bat, there was a ball called a strike," Votto said. "And it appeared I was talking to him, disagreeing with the call. Actually, our bench disagreed with the call and I agreed with him. I said that to him. I said, 'Bill, there's nothing there to get upset about. It's a strike. You and I know it's a strike. Let's stay right here.' Now, unfortunately, perspective is that first at-bat, I'm already in a bad place with him.
"My second at-bat, there was a ball called off the plate. My rules -- I like to disagree once and then leave it be," Votto said later. "I disagreed with him, but I moved on."
As for the at-bat where he was thrown out of the game, Votto couldn't recall ever being denied a timeout by an umpire.
"He reserved the right to say no to me. But in this instance, I've never seen that before," Votto said. "I don't know if he has a track record of saying no, it was just an odd scenario. I didn't get it. I didn't get it at all. I know I'm appealing for some compassion here. I've been hammered here publicly for this the last couple of days. I feel like I'm trying to get my side of the story here. I've never been denied timeout in my memory -- nine years -- especially not when you say please three times."
Wednesday was the third ejection for Votto in 2015, and the seventh of his career. He served a one-game suspension for bumping umpire Chris Conroy during a May 6 argument at Pittsburgh. In that instance, and a paradox to this week, he was quick to show contrition and apologized immediately.