Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto was ejected Monday in a spring training game against the Toronto Blue Jays for an awkward ball exchange that followed a pitch-clock violation.
Home plate umpire Randy Rosenberg had just finished calling a ball on Phillies pitcher Craig Kimbrel for taking too long on the mound when the at-bat in the fourth inning devolved into the bizarre ejection.
Kimbrel asked for a fresh ball after the violation, and Rosenberg threw him one. Kimbrel then threw out that baseball and asked for another. Rosenberg tried handing that ball to Realmuto to throw, but the catcher blindly turned his glove away and the ball dropped to the ground.
Rosenberg immediately ejected Realmuto.
Realmuto, still squatting in his catcher’s position with his back to Rosenberg, turned around and expressed confusion about what had just happened.
Phillies manager Rob Thomson then came to the plate for an explanation.
“How does he expect me to know he’s giving me the ball right there?” Realmuto said to the Philadelphia Inquirer after the game. “I’m not even looking at him.”
Realmuto made his way off the diamond with a few rah-rah fist pumps for the crowd.
Head-scratching sequences such as this one have been popping up at times during spring training as MLB put into place significant new rules meant to speed up the game. Players at times have been experimenting with how best to use the rules to their advantage before the regular season, although Realmuto told the Inquirer his missed handoff had nothing to do with a clock violation.
“I said, ‘Dude, I thought you were throwing the ball,’” Realmuto told the newspaper. “He said, ‘I’m not gonna buy that.’”
The league made a few clarifications to the new rules last week, saying it was incorporating player input.
Rosenberg has been called up from Triple-A for 39 regular season MLB games between 2020-22, according to retrosheet.org. Crew chief Dan Iassogna defended Rosenberg’s decision to the Inquirer after the game.
“Did Randy act hastily? No,” Iassogna said. “I believe Randy felt like the situation warranted an ejection, and that’s what he did.”
The Phillies won the game 5-2. They play the Blue Jays again on Tuesday to end spring training.