Roger Mooney covers the Tampa Bay Rays for The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com and News Channel 8. He has covered the Rays since their first season in 1998, including 11 years for the Bradenton Herald. Roger has also covered Florida, South Florida and Florida State football, the Bucs and the Lightning.
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Howell vs. Martinez? ‘Whatever.’
Posted May 16, 2009 by Marc Lancaster
Updated May 16, 2009 at 12:13 AM
On a historic night at the Trop, the strangest moment had nothing to do with the outcome. It came in the top of the eighth, with two outs, nobody on and the Rays trailing 7-6.
With Victor Martinez at the plate, J.P. Howell delivered a breaking ball that stayed high and inside, and ended up coming close to the catcher’s head as Martinez ducked in toward the plate. Martinez, who probably weighs as much as two Howells, stepped out of the box and stared at the left-hander before starting to yell at him. Howell returned the glare as home plate umpire Greg Gibson immediately tried to calm Martinez (and was soon joined by Indians bench coach Jeff Datz).
So what happened?
“I don’t know, man – you’ve probably got to ask him,” said Howell. “I was just pitching, playing ball. Whatever. Where the ball was, if his face was in that area, you make up your own mind on what you think. I just threw a pitch barely in, a little up, and whatever. He didn’t like it. I don’t know what that is.”
Howell said he wasn’t about to back down from Martinez’ glare, indicating that the catcher knew where he was if he really wanted to discuss the matter further.
“He said something I couldn’t understand and I said, ‘Whatever.’ I was right there. I don’t do the talking thing, man. That’s his deal, not mine.”
Catcher Dioner Navarro said he told Martinez to calm down and it was nothing personal—and of course there was no possible reason for throw at him there, given the game situation and how far the Rays had come back. After the game, however, Martinez said it was all about the location, regardless of the situation.
“Whoever throws at my head, I’m going to go after anybody,” Martinez told reporters in the Indians’ clubhouse. “I don’t like that, something throwing to the head. You want to hit somebody, pick a different spot.”
So do we have bad blood brewing here? I seriously doubt it. But it never ceases to amaze me when guys take so personally a pitch that obviously missed its intended target, nothing more. I understand a pitch up there can do a lot of damage, but you take a risk any time you step into a batter’s box and that has to be understood. There’s no need for the macho showmanship.