McCann: Tigers need to take game 'out of umpire's hand'

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Tigers' James McCann talks with home plate umpire Mike Everitt after a called third strike in the second inning.

Detroit – Nobody was more in the line of fire on Ejection Saturday than Tigers catcher James McCann.

It was home plate umpire Mike Everitt’s questionable called third strike on McCann in the second inning Saturday that started the grumbling that led to the ejection of four Tigers – coach Wally Joyner, manager Brad Ausmus, designated hitter Victor Martinez and right fielder J.D. Martinez.

“I’d prefer to stay away from it,” McCann said Sunday morning. “I’m glad I didn’t have the opportunity to speak on it last night.”

Because his blood was still up. When he was called out on strikes in the second, on a pitch that replays showed was clearly low, McCann bent over to remove his shin guard and, without looking at Everitt, politely expressed his disagreement with the call.

“I didn’t say anything that I would have been ejected for,” McCann said.

As a catcher, McCann has to maintain a fairly high level of diplomacy with the home plate umpire – and last night, diplomacy was severely strained.

“I personally try to keep an open line of communication (with the home plate umpire),” he said. “I do my darnedest to not say something over the course of an at-bat that’s going to affect my pitcher.

“Also, I realize the calls that are going for them I want for my pitcher to get the same calls. As a catcher, you do have to watch your mouth a little more.”

More penalties for Victor Martinez? Tigers can't be sure

Despite McCann’s best efforts, the complaining from the Tigers dugout continued to escalate as Everitt continued to call pitches that were at or beneath the lower edge of the strike zone.

Victor Martinez protested the longest and most vehemently after a first-pitch called strike in the third inning. Miguel Cabrera was called out on a debatable pitch high in the zone prior to Martinez’s at-bat.

Martinez seemed to have exhausted his beef and was getting back into the batter’s box when Everitt gave him the thumb. Once he finally got back to the dugout, Martinez flung his helmet back onto the field.

For that, it is quite likely he will be suspended.

Joyner and Ausmus were tossed in the fifth after a questionable third strike call on Ian Kinsler. J.D. Martinez was gonged after he was called out in the sixth.

“At the end of the day, we have to find a way to take it out of the umpire’s hand,” McCann said. “Unfortunately last night, I don’t know that we were able to do that.”

The last thing McCann wanted was to incur a fine from the Major League Baseball, so he chose his words carefully. He wouldn’t comment directly on whether Everitt’s strike zone was the same for both teams.

Ausmus admits playoff picture is top of mind now

“Anytime you have four guys ejected and the benches didn’t clear, that’s a tell-tale sign that something is going on,” he said. “I don’t really want to comment beyond that. I don’t want to get in trouble.”

Victor Martinez, unavailable after the game Saturday, would not comment on his ejection Sunday morning. Ausmus was simply eager to put it in the rearview.

“It happens in baseball quite often that there are disagreements and it’s water under the bridge the next day,” Ausmus said.

McCann said he didn’t believe the incident would have any carry over.

“Everyone is professional,” he said. “Today is a new day. The next time (Everitt) is behind the plate will be a new day. I don’t expect anything to translate.”

Twitter @cmccosky