Nats’ Hairston issued one-game suspension

Major League Baseball issued a one-game suspension and an undisclosed fine to Nationals third baseman Jerry Hairston Jr. for his aggressive actions, which included making contact with umpire Ed Hickox during the bottom of the seventh inning of the team 2-1 victory over the Padres on Friday.

Hairston had been scheduled to serve his suspension Sunday, however, he elected to appeal.

Hairston was not surprised that that he was fined, but expressed disappointed that he was suspended.

“I didn’t push him or shove [Hickox] in any way and the video clearly shows that,” Hairston said. “I don’t know what [MLB was] seeing. It’s as clear as day in the video. I made a strong argument. I thought I was in the right.

“This is the big leagues. You are going to have your ups and downs as far as disagreements with umpires. I respect an umpire. Never have I pushed or shoved an umpire and I never will.”

With Padres left-hander Clayton Richard on the mound and Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa on first base, Hairston called time out. Hickox declined, while Richard threw the pitch. Hairston quickly went back in the batter’s box and flied out to center fielder Cameron Maybin for the second out of the inning.

Instead of running to first base, Hairston argued with Hickox, claiming that Richard was quick pitching him and wasn’t giving him enough time to setup in the batter’s box.

Within seconds, Hickox ejected Hairston and almost hit manager Jim Riggleman in the face accidently as he was waving his arm to indicate that Hairston was out of the game. Hickox was not available for comment.

“I never cussed at him. I pleaded my case. That’s all I did,” Hairston said. “Sometimes, I’m an emotional guy. I’m very high strung. I can be a little bit showy, at times. I guess that is the word. But I never pushed or shoved. The video speaks loud and clear.”

Richard and Hairston were teammates with the Padres last year, and Hairston claims Richard is known to quick-pitch hitters. Hairston said that Richard learned how to pitch that way by watching White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle. Richard and Buehrle were teammates in 2008 and ’09.

“I played with Clayton Richard and he quick pitches — big time,” Hairston said after Friday’s game. “He held the ball and I stepped out. As soon as I stepped back in the box, he was coming. You just can’t do that. You have to let the hitter get set.”

1 Comment

I know that I have been extremely critical of hitting coach Rick Ekstein in the past (and largely remain so now). However, if he had anything to do with the expert bunting display put on by various National players today, I applaud him. It is a good thing for a team with largely Mendoza line hitters. With Riggleman’s aggressive baserunning type of baseball anything that gets base runner on base gets my vote. Nellie Fox would have been proud of the Nats today in that small category and if Ekstein had anything to do with teaching it I applaud his efforts.

What continues to be tiresome is the Mike Rizzo steamroller publicity campaign to make Yunesky Maya seem like some kind of pitching prodigy. What is clear now, from last year to this, in the minors or in the majors is that Maya has extreme trouble in making it to the 5th inning when hitters tend to figure him out. In short, he is not a starter. At best he is a long reliever candidate (which by the way the Nats could use). Unfortunately, this is another direct hire by Rizzo, who like Ekstein tend to embarrass Rizzo when they come up short of expected results. “Hey Mike, have you ever been to the track? It is OK to pick a loser (or place and show like Maya) once in awhile. You just have to recognize and make the best of it.

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