Russell Martin was hot coming into the clubhouse after the Yankees' 6-5 win over the Angels on Wednesday night, but it had nothing to do with getting hit in his stiff neck twice with foul balls over the course of the game.
New York Yankees
It had everything to do with the behavior of home plate umpire Laz Diaz, who Martin said refused to allow him to throw new baseballs back to his pitchers, insisting on doing it himself.
"Laz Diaz is a (jerk). Write it hard,'' Martin shouted as he came into the clubhouse, only he didn't say jerk. (Feel free to substitute any adjective you like).
Martin said the ball ban was put into effect after he and Diaz exchanged some words over strike calls early in the game.
"He said that it was a privilege that I had to earn, for me to throw the ball back,'' said the catcher, a seven-year veteran and three-time All Star. "That's never happened to me before. I even told him, because there’s guys on base, I like to keep my arm loose. Nope. 'I’m not letting you throw the ball back.' That’s pretty strange, to me. That's a good story, huh?''
It's certainly a bizarre one. And of course, Diaz was not available for comment after the game. Martin said he had no previous history with Diaz. "I think he was punishing me for arguing,'' Martin said. "Now, thinking back, I should have shown him the gold Rawlings sign on my glove.''
That is awarded for having won a Gold Glove, as Martin did in 2007. It will be interesting to see where this mini-feud goes the next time Diaz is working the plate at a Yankees game. Said Martin: "I know he can hold a grudge with the best of them.''