MIAMI — The Great Pine Tar Controversy of 2012 stuck around Marlins Park on Monday, with plenty more profanity, an awkward phone call and Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson, voice raised, uttering “holy moly.”
The quick recap: Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen wasn’t pleased with the height of the pine tar on Bryce Harper’s bat in the fourth inning Sunday. Harper switched bats, but television cameras caught Guillen sending a stream of expletives Harper’s direction. After the game, Johnson maintained Guillen was trying to intimidate his player. In his postgame comments, Guillen called Harper “unprofessional.”
The managers later spoke on the phone.
Johnson: “It was an interesting exchange going on, but that’s Ozzie.”
Guillen: “I tried to call him. He told me: ‘Get the [expletive] away from me.’”
The air was not cleared, as one headline on MLB.com claimed.
Surrounded by an unusually large group of media in the visitor’s dugout Monday, Johnson was perplexed as to why the incident continued to attract attention. One Miami-area radio reporter asked Johnson three straight times why players use pine tar on their bats.
That left Johnson’s folksy voice near a shout.
“So they can hold a bat and not throw it in the stands,” the manager said. “How much clearer do I got to be? Holy moly. And everybody uses it. Why do they have it on deck? Why do they have the sticky stuff? Because they wear gloves. … Geez-o-pete.”
Meanwhile, Guillen delivered a rambling monologue that doubled down on the “unprofessional” jab amidst moments not fit for a family audience.
“If he thinks I try to intimidate people, I never did,” Gullien said. “I never fight with anybody. If somebody tries to intimidate me, yes. But I don’t try to intimidate him. That’s the last thing that went through my mind. … Intimidate from what? I just think that was completely unprofessional what he did. He showed me up.”
More Guillen, on Harper “But if this kid continues to do that [expletive], he might not make it. Because they’re going to fool around with the wrong guy, and that wrong guy will kick his [expletive]. He might not make it. And I love this kid. I think this kid is great for the game, plays the game right, plays the game hard. He’s got a chance to be one the greatest players in the game. But he’s only 19 years old, too. When you’re 19, you do things you shouldn’t do, right or wrong thing. I take that, too. He’s a baby, and that’s why I respect him. But what he did, if he would do that to Tony La Russa or somebody else like that? He’s gonna be in trouble. To me, I just laugh. I called him a couple names, that’s it.”
The histrionics didn’t carry over to Monday’s game, where Harper coaxed an uneventful walk in his first plate appearance.