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TIMORE -- Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez prides himself in always being ready to hit, and that's exactly why he was infuriated enough on Wednesday night to be ejected for just the second time in his career.
When Orioles reliever Pedro Strop threw his 1-2 fastball, Gonzalez was not in a hitting position yet. Gonzalez felt Strop quick-pitched him, but instead of risking that home-plate umpire Mike Everitt would ring him up on strike three, Gonzalez had to take what he called an emergency swing, grounding out to second.
Irked with what had just taken place, Gonzalez was quickly thrown out of the game.
"I wasn't ready to hit," said Gonzalez. "There needs to be a universal interpretation of it. It can't be up to each individual umpire's discretion. The rule needs to be stated better, because obviously I wasn't even set. I was just sitting there waiting for him to come set so I can get into my stance. We're trying to win games. I'm the leadoff hitter, down two runs, trying to get on base and that at-bat gets taken away from me."
The Red Sox lost the game, 5-3.
Interestingly, Strop didn't deny it was a quick pitch. He just said that no umpire has discouraged him from doing it.
"My guess was he was kind of mad at the quick pitch," said Strop. "He was arguing with the umpire saying that it was illegal. Something like that, but I haven't [been] told that it's illegal. So if it's been working, I'm going to keep doing it."
What did Gonzalez say to Everitt?
"As I went back [to the dugout], I just said I wasn't ready to hit," Gonzalez said. "'Don't take the at-bat away from me.' And then as I got back, out of frustration and everything I just said, 'Mikey, you stink.' Maybe I shouldn't have said that, but at the end of day my job was to get on base, try to create a rally, get something started and that was taken away from me."
Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine was also ejected for arguing on behalf of Gonzalez.
"The reason they don't have the quick pitch is because it's dangerous," Valentine said. "It's been allowed. I don't know for how long now. If the hitter is not ready and the ball's at his head, he's not going to get out of the way. That's why they have the rule in the book. I guess the hitter has to step out or drop his bat or something, but with two strikes, you're going to leave it up to the umpire to call you on strike three, so you're playing survival."
Valentine estimated that there are about seven pitchers who frequently quick-pitch. He noted that one of his pitchers, Franklin Morales, was called for a balk on it earlier this season when a runner was on base.
"I've seen it called it a ball a few times, too, a no pitch, when the umpire determined that the hitter wasn't ready," Gonzalez said. "If the hitter's not ready, it's a ball. Automatic. If the hitter's not ready, it's an automatic ball. A lot of guys are using it now. I think it's very dangerous -- especially with a guy who throws 97 [mph]."