WASHINGTON -- Upset by being hit by a pitch twice on the same night, Marlins third baseman Derek Dietrich exchanged a few words with Nationals reliever Enny Romero in the seventh inning of Wednesday's 6-4 loss at Nationals Park.
Home-plate umpire Ron Kulpa issued warnings, prompting Miami manager Don Mattingly to weigh in from the dugout. During the verbal exchange, he was ejected.
"We're not going to back down from that inner half there," Dietrich said. "I wasn't pleased getting hit there. I know it's part of my game. I'm just trying to send a message that we're not going to let it fly."
Before heading to the clubhouse, Mattingly gave Kulpa an earful near home plate. But tensions simmered and everything settled, with Dietrich taking first base.
With the Marlins trailing, 6-2, in the seventh, Dietrich led off against the hard-throwing Romero, who pegged him on the right arm with a fastball, tracked by Statcast™ at 97.6 mph.
Dietrich stared at Romero, saying a couple of words as he headed to first. The two players came up together in the Rays' system, so the lefty was surprised when the infielder showed his frustrations.
"We were teammates in Tampa," Romero said. "I don't want to hit him because I don't want to put the first batter of the inning on base. I don't understand why [he was angry]."
Dietrich is starting at third base in place of Martin Prado, a valued team leader who is on the disabled list with a right hamstring strain. So he didn't want to do anything to escalate the situation.
"It's how baseball goes," Dietrich said. "Send a message. We didn't hit anybody. I just wanted to let them know that's not going to happen. I'm not going to go out there and put myself down in the count. We're already missing our captain. I'm not risking a suspension or something like that. Just playing the game. Letting them know, taking the base, that's it."
Dietrich was hit 24 times last year, setting a Marlins season record. And he's been hit now 56 times in his career.
Mattingly, in his second season with the Marlins, has been ejected four times with the organization.
"He's got every one of our backs, just like we've got his," Dietrich said. "I think he felt the need. Three guys get hit. They're throwing in. He did what he had to do."
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.