Martinez apologizes for flare-up with Rockies
Teams trade HBPs, young starter flashes gesture toward Colorado dugout
ST. LOUIS -- Having channeled his energy and intensity quite well through the first months of the season, Carlos Martinez admitted he let his emotions get the best of him on Thursday night and apologized afterward for the way his five-inning outing ended.
Martinez didn't factor into the Cardinals' 9-8 victory over the Rockies, but his demeanor was a prominent topic in both clubhouses afterward. The two sides offered various explanations as to why things went awry, but there was mutual agreement that Martinez crossed a line when, after securing an inning-ending double play, he threw his glove to the ground and flashed an obscene gesture toward the Rockies' dugout.
"Sometimes the emotions are hard to control," Martinez, speaking through a team translator, said afterward. "Tonight was a hard night. I don't try to do bad things to anybody or anything. What happened, happened without intentions."
The intensity got raised a few notches in the fifth. With the game tied at 4, the Rockies used a single, an error and a subsequent single by Corey Dickerson to take back the lead. Dickerson clapped emphatically as he reached first, and Martinez sulked for some time around the mound before taking a visit from pitching coach Derek Lilliquist.
On the next pitch, Martinez hit DJ LeMahieu to load the bases. Some on the Rockies' side believed Martinez meant to plunk LeMahieu, who had singled off Martinez in his previous two at-bats.
"Early on in the game he was staring DJ down for ... I have no idea," Dickerson said. "DJ is one of those guys I would never think he'd do anything wrong. I don't know. It's not a good move."
Four Colorado players trickled out of the dugout as LeMahieu slowly walked toward first base. Home-plate umpire Paul Nauert prodded Martinez back to the mound and issued warnings to both teams.
Martinez squashed the rally by inducing a double play off the bat of Ben Paulsen. It was then that he slammed his glove down and beat his chest. As he walked off the field, he gestured toward the opposing dugout. He was quickly met by manager Mike Matheny in his own dugout. All the while, Yadier Molina had a lengthy discussion with Colorado's Nolan Arenado at home plate.
"I'm not going to take emotion out of these guys," Matheny said. "But part of our job as a staff is to teach them what kind of emotions we should be displaying that are going to help you move forward, help your team move forward. That's a learning process."
Martinez said that he acted without thinking, believing he heard someone from the Rockies' dugout yelling at him. Nevertheless, he regretted his actions.
"I'm sorry about that because I respect this game," Martinez said. "I don't want to do something bad to anybody. I apologize for what happened. I'm not that kind of person. I just try to do my job and respect the game and everybody in the game."
Martinez, with a pitch count of 100, did not return to the game.
"He's a young guy [with a] lot of emotion," said Dickerson, who faced Martinez several times in Double-A. "It was really a bad decision on his part. His teammates didn't like it either. It caused another guy to get hit, one of his teammates. It's just never good to do that, not good for baseball. At the end of the inning he slams his glove, really just showing up the team. It just looks bad."
Two innings later, with two out and none on, Kolten Wong was hit by a Christian Friedrich fastball. Despite the earlier warnings, Friedrich was not ejected. That brought Matheny out for a discussion with Nauert.
"There was a warning in place, and it needs to be defined at that point," Matheny said. "I'm sticking up for my player, too. That's about as simple as I can make it."
His message to his young starter was just as simple.
"His emotions make him fun to watch. I think they help him at times. They give him a push," Matheny said. "But if it continues to go in a direction that you don't harness and you can't control, then it snowballs in the wrong direction. That's part of the learning process."