Detroit Tigers catcher John Hicks called for a slider. Buck Farmer threw a fastball and was accused of hitting umpire Quinn Wolcott on purpose.
CLEVELAND – Brad Ausmus was watching the baseball game.
He had just been ejected Wednesday afternoon against the Cleveland Indians for arguing balls and strikes and was sitting in his office inside the visitor’s clubhouse at Progressive Field when home plate umpire Quinn Wolcott was hit by a pitch.
Catcher John Hicks — substituted for James McCann, who was ejected with Ausmus — called for a slider. Instead, Buck Farmer threw a fastball, which struck Wolcott in the right shoulder.
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The color commentary that followed on the Indians broadcast drew Ausmus’ ire.
The suggestion was made that Farmer and Hicks intentionally hit Wolcott for Ausmus and McCann’s accusations that the strike zone was unfair early in the 5-3 loss to the Indians, who set the American League record with their 21st consecutive win.
“To imply that was intentional is, first of all, a lie, ” Ausmus said. “If any player intentionally tried to hurt an umpire on this team, we’ d deal with it severely.
“For anyone to imply it was intentional is completely wrong. They are out of line in saying that, quite frankly.”
Hicks did not turn to check on Wolcott, as is often custom with catchers and umps, and instead conferred with Farmer, as if to indicate they were confused about signs.
Farmer and Hicks offered similar denials.
“Obviously, it looked bad right after Brad and (McCann) got tossed, ” Hicks said. “But it’s bases loaded and we’ re trying to win a baseball game. Any thought of us trying to do that on purpose is just ridiculous.”
Hicks explained the miscommunication, saying, “I called a fastball away and Buck shook. So, I called for a slider away. He went into his delivery thinking I called for a fastball in. I was looking for the slider away and he came with a fastball in.”
Added Ausmus, “The bases were loaded. Even if it crossed your mind to attempt it, why would you do it with the bases loaded?”
Farmer told reporters anyone making such claims should be “ashamed” and tweeted, “Hate that people think I would hit the umpire intentionally… I have more respect for the game than that. #Notthattypeofplayer”
Contact Anthony Fenech: email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @anthonyfenech. USA TODAY Sports contributed to this report.