Gardy on record pace for ejections

June 23rd, 2019

CLEVELAND -- thought he was gone.

He checked the video of his called third strike Saturday, heard the broadcast announce that he’d been ejected and figured plate umpire Roberto Ortiz had tossed him on his way to the dugout.

“Nick was standing right behind me, screaming,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He thought he’d gotten thrown out. He was coming up [the steps] and taking his jersey off. I had to say, ‘Nick, he threw _me_ out. Why do you think I stand up there in front of you? So you stay in the game.’”

Indeed, it was Gardenhire. It’s almost always Gardenhire.

“There was a lot of arguing going on in the dugout,” Gardenhire said Sunday morning, “and that means that I step out there, and I get the attention on me, which I did, and then I come back in here and sit.”

This is the reasoning that leads Gardenhire to all these ejections. It isn’t about firing up his team, or venting his own frustrations. He would rather take the heat than lose a player from the game, a philosophy that hasn’t changed through his career. He has done it enough that it feels routine now.

Saturday’s ejection was the 83rd of Gardenhire’s career, seventh-most in Major League history. But he’s on a pace unlike any he has had in his 15-year managerial career.

Gardenhire’s single-season high for ejections is eight, set in 2006 and matched the next year. Saturday’s heave-ho was his sixth this season in the Tigers’ 72nd game, not counting their suspended contest against Oakland to be completed later this summer.

Gardenhire’s six ejections this year lead the Majors. According to Baseball Reference, it also ties the season high for any Tigers manager. Alan Trammell was tossed from six games in 2004, as was Fred Hutchinson in 1954 and Hughie Jennings in 1907.

Jim Leyland was never ejected from more than five games in a season in his Tigers tenure. Sparky Anderson’s season high with the Tigers was three; he was tossed just 25 times during his 17 seasons in Detroit.

Whether Gardenhire is on a record pace depends on the source. According to Baseball Reference, which gets its information from Retrosheet, the Major League record for ejections in a season is 11, set by John McGraw in 1905 and matched by Bill Dahlen with the 1911 Brooklyn Dodgers and Bobby Cox with the 2001 Braves.

However, Baseball Almanac lists McGraw with 13 ejections in that 1905 season, holding the Major League record. It also lists Paul Richards with 12 ejections while managing the Orioles in 1956, good for the American League mark.

If Gardenhire keeps up this pace, that discrepancy could loom large. Whether Gardenhire continues on depends a lot on his players, because he has no plans to change his philosophy of stepping in front and taking the ejection for them.

“It’s just I don’t want my players getting thrown out of the game,” he said. “That’s a bad deal against them. When they get thrown out, it’s not good. They have to play. I’ve said that my whole career, and that will never change. I want them to stay in the game. And they know that, but they’re frustrated right now, and there’s obvious reasons why they’re frustrated. We’re not winning games.”

As for the fines, he said, he’ll deal with them.

“It goes to B.A.T., the Baseball Assistance Team, so I have no problem with that,” he said. “Donations are fine.”

Franklin Perez returns to injured list

The Tigers were optimistic that pitching prospect was healthy and back on track to climb the organizational ladder when he returned from the injured list Tuesday to start for Class A Advanced Lakeland. Those hopes appear dashed with Perez placed back on the 7-day IL Sunday morning with right shoulder soreness, the same injury that landed him on the list previously.

Perez is expected to undergo an MRI exam to be reviewed by specialists. Previous tests have indicated no structural damage, but Perez -- the Tigers' No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline -- has dealt with shoulder inflammation on and off this year. He opened the season on the injured list, returned in May for one start for the Flying Tigers, then returned to the injured list before being activated earlier this week.