Frame is fleeting for catchers
The fact that umpire Rick Reed said his controversial ball-four call on closer Brian Fuentes’ full-count pitch to Nick Green Wednesday night in Fenway Park “very well could have been a strike” certainly caught the attention of the Angels.
Green’s bases-loaded walk in the ninth inning forced in the tying run, and Alex Gonzalez’s ensuing single scored the winning run in Boston’s wild 9-8 victory over the Angels.
But catchers Mike Napoli and Jeff Mathis were equally surprised by Reed’s admission that Napoli’s actions led him to call it a ball after the catcher tried to “frame” the knee-high pitch by pulling his glove up a bit as he caught it.
Framing pitches is a common practice for catchers -- “You try to catch the ball the best way you can to give the umpires the best look,” Napoli said. “It happens all game. Not just on one pitch.”
But will Reed’s comments cause Napoli and Mathis to cut back on their practice of framing pitches?
“I don’t think it will change anything we do,” Mathis said. “You see guys do that all the time, some more so than others. You’re going to try to stick it on the outside corner and make it look as good as you can.”
Said Napoli: “We’re not trying to trick them. Our job is to make any pitch look the best we can. If you’re fooled on one pitch, you should be fooled on every pitch.”
Wallets to take a hit
Several coaches will be fined by Major League Baseball for their actions Wednesday night, but Angels General Manager Tony Reagins said Friday that he has been assured by MLB officials that no coach or player will be suspended because of the incident.
The Angels were fuming after the game and vented that frustration toward the umpires, who walk through the visiting dugout and clubhouse tunnel to get to their Fenway Park dressing room.
Reed, in his report to the commissioner’s office, said the behavior of Angels coaches “was unprofessional and unbecoming of a Major League Baseball team.”
Manager Mike Scioscia, who spoke Friday with Bob Watson, baseball’s vice president of discipline, and Mike Port, vice president of umpiring, strongly disagreed with Reed’s charge, saying, “That’s absolutely wrong.” But he admitted profanity was used.
“We felt the situation was emotional,” Reagins said. “The league has to do what it has to do as far as discipline, and we have to abide by it.”
Could the Angels’ heavy criticism of the umpires cause future close calls to go against them?
“We hope and we trust that all parties will remain professional,” Reagins said. “That’s what our expectation is, and that’s what we feel will happen.”
Vladimir Guerrero (bruised left rib cage) and Maicer Izturis (sore right hamstring) returned to the lineup Friday, but Howie Kendrick, who had three hits, including a solo home run and a game-winning RBI single Thursday, did not play.
Scioscia said Kendrick, who has been the team’s hottest hitter, with 21 hits in 43 at-bats (.488) over his last 13 games, “will play this weekend, for sure.”
Most of Kendrick’s starts since his July 4 recall from triple A have come against left-handers, and Texas will start a lefty, Derek Holland, on Sunday.