Jeff Nelson, the first-base umpire on Friday night, acknowledged that he didn't see Texas pitcher Justin Grimm catch the throw from second...
Jeff Nelson, the first-base umpire on Friday night, acknowledged that he didn’t see Texas pitcher Justin Grimm catch the throw from second base on a disputed double play in the second inning.
Speaking to a pool reporter before Saturday’s game, Nelson — a 15-year umpiring veteran — gave his take on the play, which thwarted a Mariners rally in their eventual 9-5 loss. Grimm was well off the bag when he caught the ball.
“When you umpire that play, your focus goes to the bag, and you watch the foot touch the bag and listen for the ball hitting the mitt,” he said. “In this case, I ruled the ball was caught by the first baseman, and the ball was actually caught by the pitcher. The pitcher kind of came out of nowhere on that play. I didn’t pick that up. Obviously, looking at the replays, I wish I had.”
Nelson said he saw a replay after the game, but got a hint during the game that something was askew.
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“The first baseman for Texas told me a couple of innings later that the pitcher had caught the ball and not him,” he said. “That’s when I had an indication maybe the pitcher had actually caught the ball.”
Asked if others in the umpiring crew could have helped him out on the play, Nelson said, “If they have something for me, they won’t hesitate, because I’ve worked with these guys a lot. They won’t hesitate to give me assistance if they have something that can help me with that. At the same time, they also have other assignments during that play because of the nature of the play with multiple runners.”
Mariners manager Eric Wedge and most of Seattle’s players said they, too, initially thought Texas first baseman Mitch Moreland had caught the ball, and didn’t realize otherwise until they saw the replay. But Nelson said that didn’t make him feel any better.
“I haven’t seen a play like this in 25 years,” Nelson said. “Eric was very professional in how he came out. But there’s never any consolation in a thing like this, because it’s your job to get it right. We’re competitive, too, and we want to get things right. So I’d love to say it makes you feel better, but you’re angry just like everybody else that you ruled otherwise.”
His reaction when Moreland informed him he actually hadn’t caught the throw?
“I’ll kind of leave that up to everyone else to figure out,” he said. “But we’re competitive and we like to get things right, and when we don’t, we’re just like anybody else. We want to get things right.”
Nelson politely declined to answer a question about the potential use of instant replay on plays like that.
“The replay thing is another beast,” he said.
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or email@example.com