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Nationals GM Mike Rizzo addresses MLB investigation into umpire altercation

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BALTIMORE — Addressing reports that Major League Baseball was investigation a “verbal altercation” between Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo and the umpiring crew from Thursday’s game at Citi Field in New York, Rizzo said today that he’s been in touch with MLB executive VP for baseball operations Joe Torre and has no timeline for a resolution of the investigation.

“I spoke to Joe Torre (Friday) afternoon and the information will be in his hands,” Rizzo said. “He’ll make an assessment and a decision at his own pace.”

The Nationals players, coaches and manager Jim Riggleman were all visibly upset with an out call made by first base umpire Phil Cuzzi in the ninth inning of the Nationals 1-0 loss Thursday. Jayson Werth, who looked to have beat out an infield grounder — and seemed clearly safe after first baseman Daniel Murphy’s foot left the first base bag — was called out by Cuzzi for the second out of the inning. Adam LaRoche grounded out one batter later to end the game and strand the potential tying run at third base.

After the final out, several Nationals players and coaches hopped over the dugout railing to offer some words to the umpiring crew as they made their way off the field. Apparently those words did not end once inside the tunnel. According to a New York Daily News report, Rizzo then spoke with the umpires outside the Nationals clubhouse, prompting the umpiring crew to file a formal report with MLB.

Here is an excerpt from the Daily News about the incident: 

Immediately after the game, one of the umpires told Mets security guards outside their dressing room to “find the guy in the suit,” apparently referring to Rizzo. Mets security VP Rob Kasdon arrived a fewminutes later armed with a Nationals media guide to pore over headshots to identify Rizzo, sources said.

An MLB spokesman confirmed to the Washington Times that an incident did occur between the umpires and Rizzo shortly after the conclusion of the game, and that an official report was filed by the umpiring crew. 

“I just wanted to clarify a few things about what happened last night,” Rizzo said Friday in Baltimore. “First of all, I contacted Joe Torre immediately after the incident with the umpires and he assured me that this by no means is an investigation against Mike Rizzo, this is an investigation of what happened last night after the game.

“With that said, after the incident I was proactive, called Joe Torre about it and informed him of it. Right now it is an active investigation in the hands of Joe Torre. I trust Joe Torre explicitly and I know he’ll do the right thing by it. He’s going to investigate it and we’ll see the results afterwards.”

Rizzo declined to comment on any specifics about the incident, citing the fact that the investigation is ongoing, but did say that it had “absolutely nothing to do with the play at first base in the ninth inning,” implying that the investigation does not involve the play in the ninth inning, but what happened postgame.

There is no timetable for when the investigation will be completed and the type of potential penalty that could be handed down is not known at this time. Most likely, if there is a penalty it will be in the form of a fine.

“My job is to stick up for the whole organization,” Rizzo said. “I’ve always got the managers, the coaches and the players backs and whenever I need to put myself on the line to do so, that’s my job so I’m willing to do it.”

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About the Author
Amanda Comak

Amanda Comak

Amanda Comak covers the Washington Nationals and comes to The Washington Times from the Cape Cod Times and after stints with MLB.com and the Amsterdam (N.Y.) Recorder. A Massachusetts native and 2008 graduate of Boston University, Amanda can be reached at acomak@washingtontimes.com and you can follow her on Twitter @acomak.

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