Umpire Joe West has been suspended for three games for his remarks about Adrian Beltre to USA Today in June, a source with the league confirmed.
The news was first reported by the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin, who attributed the news to the World Umpires Association.
West called Beltre baseball’s biggest complainer but later tried to clarify that he was joking. Whether he was joking or just doing damage control after the story was published on June 20 is still up for debate.
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At the time, Beltre was confounded by the assertion and wasn’t sure if West was kidding. Beltre acknowledged that he jokingly questions nearly every pitch when a lays off a pitch that is called a strike.
USA Today reporter Bob Nightengale interviewed West to celebrate the 64-year-old umpire’s 40th season and 5,000 game in the majors. Under a category called “Biggest complainer,” West said “It’s got to be Adrian Beltre. Every pitch you call that’s a strike, he says, “Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!’ I had a game with him recently and the pitch was right down the middle. He tells me, “that ball is outside.’ I told him, ‘You may be a great ballplayer, but you’re the worst umpire in the league. You stink.’’’
After Beltre responded to the remarks, USA Today added the disclaimer to the story: “West later clarified to USA TODAY Sports that he and Beltre are on friendly terms.”
Major League Baseball has not issued a statement on the suspension.
The World Umpire Association condemned the suspension.
“We disagree strongly with the decision to punish Joe West simply for sharing a humorous exchange with a player,” a release said.