DETROIT -- The Tigers had a lot of issues with home-plate umpire Mike Everitt's strike zone Saturday night. The Tiger with seemingly the biggest reason to complain had some of the fewest words for the umpire.
James McCann admitted he said a few things to Everitt after taking a called third strike on a Brett Oberholtzer pitch below the knees, but that they weren't the kind of words that would have prompted an ejection. As a catcher, he has to think about his pitcher's strike zone as much as his own as a hitter.
"I personally like to keep an open line of communication. That's what I try to do," McCann said Sunday. "I do my darnedest to not say something over the course of an at-bat that's going to affect my pitchers. But also, I realize that calls that are going for them, I'm going to want my pitchers to get that call. So I guess as a catcher, you do have to watch your mouth a little bit more, because you are back there. An outfielder can say something."
In other words, the strike at the knees Everitt was calling Saturday night could benefit his own pitcher just as much. While manager Brad Ausmus said Saturday that he didn't believe that strike zone was working both ways, McCann declined to answer whether he felt the Tigers were getting those same calls.
A strike zone map from Saturday's game using data from MLB.com's Gameday, posted on brooksbaseball.net, showed one called strike below the typical strike zone. That was the third strike to McCann in the second inning. The rest were right around the lower limit, though a couple of pitches slightly higher were not called.
Everitt had seven called third strikes Saturday night, including two for each starting pitcher. Two of them led to ejections. Tigers hitting coach Wally Joyner and Ausmus were tossed after Ian Kinsler's strikeout in the fifth inning, and J.D. Martinez was ejected after taking strike three in the sixth. Angels center fielder Mike Trout took two called third strikes against Michael Fulmer, and Trout had words with Everitt in the first.
That's why a catcher such as McCann has to watch his words.
"I like to keep an open line of communication with the umpire," McCann repeated, "because at the end of the day, I know that I have a chance to get the same calls -- or I need to get those same calls, in order for us to have a chance."
For those same reasons, McCann keeps a short memory.
"Today's a new day," he said. "Next time he's behind the plate, it's a new day. I don't expect to anything to translate."
Victor Martinez, ejected after a heated argument on a called first strike in the third inning, declined to comment. The Tigers had not heard from Major League Baseball on the ejections as of Sunday morning, so there was no word on potential fines or suspensions.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.