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Gardy was changing pitchers on record ejection

@beckjason
June 30, 2019

DETROIT -- Ron Gardenhire’s record-setting seventh ejection of the season Saturday was supposed to be a simple pitching change, he said. The Tigers' manager said he was on his way out of the dugout to take out starter Gregory Soto, and he tried to alert third-base umpire Brian O’Nora of

DETROIT -- Ron Gardenhire’s record-setting seventh ejection of the season Saturday was supposed to be a simple pitching change, he said.

The Tigers' manager said he was on his way out of the dugout to take out starter Gregory Soto, and he tried to alert third-base umpire Brian O’Nora of his intention. When he couldn’t get O’Nora’s attention, he instead alerted home-plate umpire Mark Ripperger, who apparently thought he was arguing balls and strikes.

“He threw me out basically before I got to say anything,” Gardenhire said Sunday. “And I was honestly going to make a pitching change. Yes, I was mad, but I couldn’t get the third-base umpire’s attention to tell him I was bringing a pitcher in. And then I had to look at [Ripperger]. … He threw me out before I ever got to home plate. …

“I’m like, ‘Why did you throw me out in the first place? I’m saying I’m bringing a pitcher in. I have to bring a pitcher in, because you missed a pitch.’ And he said I was arguing balls and strikes. That was not arguing balls and strikes.”

Gardenhire proceeded to make it worth his trouble, drawing a line with his foot off the outside corner of the plate before marching down the dugout steps.

“That’s when I had to just add on,” Gardenhire said.

It was a changeup to the usual motivation for Gardenhire’s ejections, when he’s trying to keep a hitter from getting tossed for arguing balls and strikes.

Both Soto and the reliever who came in, Blaine Hardy, said after Saturday’s 7-5 win over the Nationals that Gardenhire’s ejections are appreciated by pitchers who know the manager has their back.

“I'm pretty sure he's on a record pace,” Hardy said, “but he's keeping us in it. He's keeping us excited to go out there every single day. We know he's fighting for us, and we know he has our best interests in mind. And when we see him go out there and draw a line in the dirt, it excites us.”

That was little solace to Gardenhire.

“Does that appreciation go to their billfold?” he asked jokingly. “How much appreciation do they have?”

At least the record books should appreciate Gardenhire at this rate. According to research on Baseball-Reference, which gathers its data from box scores on Retrosheet, Gardenhire’s seven ejections are the most by a Tigers manager in a single season. Alan Trammell was tossed from six games in 2004, as was Fred Hutchinson in 1954 and Hughie Jennings in 1907.

Gardenhire’s next ejection this season will tie his personal single-season record of eight, which he set with the 2006 Twins and matched the next season.

The Major League single-season record, according to Baseball-Reference, is 11, set by John McGraw with the 1905 World Series champion New York Giants and matched by Bill Dahlen with the 1911 Brooklyn Dodgers and Bobby Cox with the 2001 Braves. Considering Gardenhire’s recent pace -- he has been ejected four times in just over three weeks, and six times since May 11 -- he could reach that record by the Trade Deadline at the end of July.

However, Gardenhire could have some competition for that mark. Reds rookie manager David Bell’s ejection Saturday was his second in five days and his sixth of the season.

Only once in Major League history, according to Baseball-Reference, have two managers reached double digits in ejections in the same season. That was 1910, when McGraw and Dahlen were both tossed 10 times.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.