McClendon unhappy with plate-blocking review
OAKLAND -- Mariners skipper Lloyd McClendon, who came up in baseball as a catcher before becoming a utility player in his Major League career, again expressed displeasure Friday with how a review was handled on a play at the plate in Thursday's 3-2 loss to the A's.
Umpires huddled for nearly five minutes during a replay review of a fifth-inning situation where catcher Mike Zunino tagged out Sam Fuld as the A's outfielder attempted to pull off on an inside-the-park home run against Mariners rookie Roenis Elias.
Fuld was clearly out on the play, but the umpiring crew chose to look at tape to see whether Zunino violated this year's new rule requiring catchers to allow the baserunner a path to the plate.
McClendon understands the need for the new rule, but he wasn't happy that what he felt was a clear-cut call required a review -- particularly a lengthy one -- while his pitcher sat on the bench getting cold. McClendon said the delay led him to not send Elias back out for the sixth inning despite having thrown only 80 pitches and holding a 2-1 lead.
"I talked to them at length about it," said McClendon, who stayed on the field discussing the situation with umpire Jim Reynolds throughout the delay. "I was very disappointed how all that went down. Because we worked on this in Spring Training for quite a while and talked about these kind of things.
"First of all, those challenges should be done in a reasonable amount of time, and the team that's on the field shouldn't come off the field because you don't want your pitcher sitting in the dugout for 5-7 minutes at a time. But everything we talked about didn't happen. My pitcher is sitting on the bench, and that's just not good. He's sitting on the bench after a fairly stressful inning. Now to ask him to come back out is just not fair. It pretty much cost him his outing. He had to come out of the game."
If Elias had been allowed to stay on the field during the replay, he could have thrown some pitches to stay warm. Instead, he and the rest of the Mariners sat in the dugout while the umpires huddled and eventually let the call stand.
"What I voiced to the umpires, 'Your discretion should have been a lot sharper than that,'" McClendon said. "I was a catcher, and I know when the catcher is standing in fair territory it's kind of hard to block the plate. He was in fair territory the whole time. It wasn't a question of him blocking the plate, it was swipe tag and then there was no collision, so what are we reviewing? I was baffled by the whole thing. But live and learn, and hopefully we'll get better through all that."
But while there was also much talk about home-plate umpire Sean Barber's ball-and-strike calling in the same game, McClendon wasn't buying into that particular discussion.
"Listen, the umpires missed a couple calls here and there, but that didn't cause us to lose the game," he said. "We didn't execute on a lot of different fronts. I refuse to use that as an excuse. We had some baserunning blunders, we walked 10, and we didn't get a couple big hits when we needed to get them. So you can throw that out the window. That guy didn't cause us to lose the game."