Russell Martin “mystified” by home plate umpire Laz Diaz’s behavior
ANAHEIM – Yankees catcher Russell Martin said he was “mystified” by the behavior of home plate umpire Laz Diaz during Wednesday’s 6-5 victory over the Angels, saying that Diaz would not permit him to throw new baseballs to the mound during the game.
Martin said that he likes to throw the ball to keep his arm loose following foul balls, but was told by Diaz – a full-time Major League umpire since 1999 – that it would not be allowed because it is, as Martin said, “a privilege that I have to earn.”
“At the end of the game, after I got hit in the neck [by a foul tip], I was like, ‘Can I throw the ball back now?’” Martin said. “He was like, still, ‘No.’ I was like, ‘You’re such a (jerk).’ Like, for real, unbelievable.”
Martin acknowledged that he and Diaz had argued about balls and strikes earlier in the game. Martin believed Diaz was baiting him to say something that would warrant an ejection.
“I feel like that’s what he was trying to do. He was trying to get me. It wasn’t going to happen,” Martin said.
Martin said that he has never encountered an umpire who refuses to allow the catcher to throw a new ball to the pitcher.
“I even told him, when there’s guys on base, I like to keep my arm loose,” Martin said. “[He said,] ‘I’m not letting you throw a ball back.’ That’s pretty strange to me.
“I’ve had umpires wanting to throw it back and I ask them. I let them know, I like to throw the ball to keep the feel for throwing in case somebody steals. But [Diaz] told me I have to earn the privilege.”
Martin said that he knows Diaz “can hold a grudge,” which could make things interesting the next time Diaz works home plate against the Yankees.
“Now, thinking back, I should have showed him the gold Rawlings sign on my glove,” Martin said.