DUNEDIN, Fla. — Philadelphia Phillies catcher JT Realmuto was ruled out of a spring practice game against the Toronto Blue Jays Monday for an awkward rally following a pitch clock violation.
Plate umpire Randy Rosenberg had just called a ball at Phillies pitcher Craig Kimbrel for taking too long on the mound when the at-bat devolved into the bizarre ejection in the fourth inning.
Kimbrel asked for a fresh ball after the breach, and Rosenberg threw him one. Kimbrel then threw away that baseball and asked for another. Rosenberg tried to give Realmuto the ball to throw, but the catcher blindly turned his glove away and the ball fell to the ground.
Rosenberg immediately threw Realmuto out.
Realmuto, still crouched in his catching position with his back to Rosenberg, turned and expressed his confusion at 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 told the Philadelphia Inquirer after the game. “I don’t even look at him.”
Realmuto made his way off the diamond with a few punches for the crowd.
Headscratching sequences like this sometimes surfaced during spring training when MLB introduced significant new rules meant to speed up the game. Players have at times experimented with how best to use the rules to their advantage ahead of the regular season, although Realmuto told the Inquirer his missed handover had nothing to do with a clock breach.
“I said, ‘Dude, I thought you were going to throw the ball,'” Realmuto told the newspaper. “He said, ‘I’m not going to buy that.'”
The league made some clarifications on the new rules last week, saying it’s incorporating player input.
According to retrosheet.org, Rosenberg was called up by Triple-A for 39 regular-season MLB games between 2020 and 2022. Team boss Dan Iassogna defended Rosenberg’s decision to the Inquirer after the game.
“Did Randy act hastily? No,” said Iassogna. “I think Randy felt the situation warranted a sacking, and he did.”
The Phillies won the game 5-2. They play the Blue Jays again on Tuesday to wrap up spring training.