A split squad meant both Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli were starting catchers this afternoon.
They had very different days.
Here in Tampa, Stewart caught David Phelps’ first two innings, then he seemed to have an infield single in his first at-bat. He grounded to short, and it was a bang-bang play at first. Stewart stuck his arms out as if signaling safe, but first base umpire Marty Foster called him out. Stewart argued briefly, Foster said something back to Stewart, then Stewart said some more as he walked away. That’s when Foster tossed him.
“I didn’t feel like I was talked to in the right manner, and I told him, ‘Don’t talk to me like that,’” Stewart said. “I didn’t curse at him. I pointed at him once, he told me not to point at him, and I didn’t do it again. Somehow I got tossed. … I’m just trying to make a team. I didn’t feel like I did anything to deserve to be thrown out of the game. I didn’t get in his face. Apparently he thought I did something that I didn’t do, and here I am.”
I haven’t seen a replay since Stewart gave his side of the story. Some believe Stewart pointed a second time, and Joe Girardi said Foster explained that he ejected Stewart for pointing (which was seen as showing up the umpire). Regardless, Stewart was in the dugout by the end of the second inning.
Over in Kissimmee, Cervelli went 0-for-3, but he did throw out two more runners trying to steal second base. Those were the third and fourth batters Cervelli had thrown out this spring – only one has stolen successfully against him – and considering Girardi’s emphasis on defense at the position, Cervelli’s throwing is the early standout in the competition.
“He’s throwing the ball extremely well, and that’s good,” Girardi said. “That was something that he kind of lost a feel for. He was really good when he first came up and for whatever reason he got out of whack, but that seems to have corrected itself.”
It’s too early to say who’s going to win the competition, but there’s little doubt who won today.
“I don’t want to be in here after the second inning,” Stewart said. “I want to be out there on the field seeing pitches, catching my pitchers, getting a feel for them. Being in here sucks, especially after two innings. It is what it is. I apologized to Joe for somehow doing something to get out of the game.”
Associated Press photos