A's critical of Machado after benches clear
Team takes offense to backswings and bat-throwing incident in eighth inning
BALTIMORE -- With one swing -- and toss -- of his bat, Manny Machado lost the respect of much of the A's clubhouse Sunday.
Their opinion of Baltimore's young third baseman had already waned before that, though, following a series-long bout of disapproving incidents.
But the tossing of his bat toward third base, when it was seemingly aimed at A's lefty Fernando Abad -- following a second brush-back pitch that nearly hit Machado -- marked the tipping point.
"It was obvious the pitcher threw at him the second time," crew chief Larry Vanover said. "The first time you have some doubt, but the second time there was no doubt he threw at him. And then he threw the bat. That wasn't accidental."
"It slipped out of my hands," said Machado. "Umpire thought it was intentional, so at that point I guess you have to toss the pitcher and the hitter at the same time."
It was Machado's backswing that hit catcher Derek Norris in the head, for a second time on the day, and forced the backstop out of the game in the sixth inning. Not once did he say something to Norris, according to the A's.
And it was Machado, two days prior, who yelled at A's third baseman Josh Donaldson, after stumbling to the ground following Donaldson's tag on a forceout. That incident cleared the benches and led to Donaldson being hit by a pitch later in the game.
On Sunday, the benches cleared again, this time for much longer. There was more yelling, but with pushing and shoving, too. Ultimately, Machado and Abad were ejected.
Machado played it off as an accident -- "He said something about how he needed more pine tar," said Stephen Vogt, catching at the time -- but the A's weren't buying it.
"What he's doing, it's a disgrace to baseball, and I think it's sad to see someone of his talent and national recognition have things like that stain your career," said Norris, who watched the scuffle unfold from the clubhouse following his concussion tests. "I think it's sad that a player needs to take things to a certain level. I don't really understand it. Somewhere inside of him, he's gotta know that he was in the wrong at some point. If you can't leave here today thinking that you didn't do anything wrong, something needs to happen, whether it happens internally over there or whatever."
John Jaso, typically the reserved type, was one of the first out of the dugout.
"He's a guy that swings at strikes, and I've never seen a guy swing at a ball that's coming right at him like that and let the bat go flying," said Jaso. "I've never seen a bat get released that way.
"There is a certain respect that you have to have for this game, and it's a blessing for all of us to be where we are, and when I feel like someone doesn't see that and doesn't respect the game as such, it doesn't sit well with me, and I really don't like it. And that's what I felt. I felt there was disrespect for the game coming from one player, and guys like that need to be taught a lesson because there's millions of other people that would love to have the spot he has."
Then there were the backswings.
Jaso, Norris and Vogt, all catchers, agreed it's customary for a batter to check in on a catcher after a hit is taken to the head.
"Usually most guys, it's a, 'You all right?' Something," said Norris, who was feeling better after the game. "But, if anything, I might've caught him smiling one time, which is kinda bizarre. Not really much [courtesy] coming from his side today. I don't need a guy to ask me if I feel all right to feel good about a situation, but I think it is courteous for one ballplayer to another to ask if they're all right. But yeah, nothing."
"Obviously we're competing and trying to win, but any time there's a head involved, just a simple, 'Hey, are you all right?' goes a long way," said Vogt. "To me, honestly, this is something I've never seen on a baseball field before. This game has a funny way of working itself out. It's over. We're going to move on. But it's something that should never happen on a baseball field. I've never seen anything like that before."
A's manager Bob Melvin, who never strays from the high road, was succinct when asked about Machado's antics yet made his thoughts on the matter very clear.
"You know, I don't comment about certain things," Melvin said, "but everyone saw what went down the last couple days and everyone's thinking the same thing. I'll leave it at that."