TORONTO — After unleashing a Twitter rant criticizing umpire Andy Fletcher's work behind the plate Thursday, Rays OF Carlos Gomez doubled down on his comments, saying he was even more upset about how Fletcher treated him when questioning a third-strike call, then ejecting him.
"He's the one who should have been thrown out last night because he's the only one who didn't do his job,'' Gomez said before Friday's game against the Blue Jays.
Gomez said he told Fletcher that the pitch ending a key sixth-inning pinch-hit appearance with the bases loaded was inside and that video would prove it. Gomez indicated Fletcher squared up to him, said "but right now it's a strike," and was dismissive, "basically then he told me to go on" into the dugout.
"That's what made me (ticked) off, made me frustrated, the way he acted to me,'' Gomez said.
Revisiting that point a few minutes later, Gomez said it was the way Fletcher "got in my face" in defending the call that was the trigger point.
"What does that mean? I'm a man. You do that to me in the street I'm going to slap the (crap) out of you,'' he said.
Fletcher declined before Friday's game, via a Blue Jays representative, to address Gomez's comments. Major League Baseball officials typically review all criticisms of umpires and could decide if Gomez's tweets and comments warrant a fine and/or suspension.
Gomez heavily criticized Fletcher's ball-and-strike calling, saying he "missed more than 30 pitches, guaranteed" and that his work exemplifies the need to implement an electronic strike-zone system.
"They know that I never complain about strike or balls,'' Gomez said. "But the way they've been calling (stuff) now, they need to put in the electronic strike zone. They have to because they've been inconsistent the whole year long. I'm not the only one.''
Gomez said he was particularly upset because he had a chance in that at-bat to extend what was then a 3-2 Rays lead, and given that they ended up losing 9-8 (after blowing a six-run lead in the ninth), the disputed call might have cost the Rays a win and him money in future earnings.
"I'm not going to let you do that,'' said Gomez, whose $4 million salary this year pushed his career earnings to around $50 million. "I'm rich, but I'm not stupid.''
Manager Kevin Cash said he hadn't looked at the replay of the pitch in question, but Gomez's public criticism was "probably not the best way to go about it.''
Gomez, 32, earlier this year criticized MLB's drug-testing program for not being random and had a violent dugout outburst during a game, smashing a cooler. But he also has been complimented by Cash and players for providing strong leadership and helping create a casual and positive atmosphere in the clubhouse.
The 3-4 defense
Outfield coach Rocco Baldelli said the staff had been talking for weeks about trying a four-man outfield alignment and decided it was the right opportunity Thursday against lefty Justin Smoak, who often hits the ball hard and in the air, and was unlikely to bunt. 2B Brandon Lowe moved to right-center, having stashed his outfield glove in the Rays bullpen for a quick change, and the three remaining infielders bunched on the right side, though Smoak did not put a ball in play. The Astros and Twins are among other teams that have tried it at time; former Rays manager Joe Maddon also did so against Boston's David Ortiz. Baldelli said the Rays plan to try it again but wouldn't say how much it could be used. "There are a few select hitters in the league that we think right now it makes sense to try it against, but things change,'' he said. "A lot of the stuff that we do, we're figuring it out. You can only vet so much before you try it.''
Number of the day
3 Rays hitting .300 or better going into play Friday: Joey Wendle, .303; Mallex Smith, .301; and Matt Duffy, .300. No other team has more than two. The Rays have not had a .300 hitter at season's end since former Seminole High standout Casey Kotchman in 2011.
• DH Ji-Man Choi left the game with left knee soreness but said he was okay and available for Saturday's game. RF Mallex Smith was taken out for precautionary reasons after twisting his right ankle on a leaping catch at the wall but was expected to play Saturday.
• Tommy Pham extended his on-base streak to 23 games and is hitting .348 with 18 RBIs in 30 games with the Rays.
• RHP Tyler Glasnow makes his second-to-last start of the season Saturday, saying he planned on "going out and competing like I have the last couple starts, go out with intent, go out with stuff and just attack hitters.''