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Rays' Maddon backs Price in dispute with umpire

Rays manager Joe Maddon says he believes that umpire Tom Hallion, “if he’s given another opportunity,” would not have called David Price a liar.
Rays manager Joe Maddon says he believes that umpire Tom Hallion, “if he’s given another opportunity,” would not have called David Price a liar.
Published May 1, 2013

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As Major League Baseball continued its investigation into Sunday's incident, LHP David Price remained upset at what he claimed umpire Tom Hallion said, and manager Joe Maddon joined him.

Maddon, speaking for the first time on the matter, said he didn't think Hallion deserved to be suspended but was "inappropriate" in calling Price "a liar" in denying accusations that he cursed.

"I would have to believe if he's given another opportunity he might want to rephrase what he said or how he said it," Maddon said. "Of course that's a very strong thing to say to anybody. … I think anybody would agree that's not the right way to go about that."

Price, meanwhile, reiterated his issue was solely with what Hallion yelled to him — "to throw the ball over the f-ing plate" — not how he called the game, and that the video clip shown repeatedly by ESPN distorts what happened.

"You can't talk to people that way, period," Price said Tuesday. "That was my whole thing. It wasn't the strike call. It wasn't any of that. It had nothing to do with the calls that he made.

"It's what he said. That's the grand picture. I know that gets misconstrued on ESPN because on the video when they show it, it looks like I am saying something to him first, and that's completely wrong. That's completely wrong. I didn't look up until he said what he said, and our entire dugout knows that."

Hallion could face discipline for confronting Price and using foul language; Price and several teammates, including Jeremy Hellickson, who was ejected for reacting from the bench, are likely to be fined for tweeting about Hallion's denial given an MLB social media policy that forbids commenting on umpires.

Maddon said in retrospect he should have been more proactive in preventing the situation from escalating, and that it had become much bigger than it should have.

Neither Price, Hellickson nor Maddon had been contacted directly by MLB.

LUKE RETURNS: DH Luke Scott was activated and in the lineup, sufficiently recovered from the right calf strain that sidelined him since late spring, but went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. "A little bit rusty, a little bit off,'' Maddon said.

Scott said he will have to fight the temptation to try to do too much after missing a month, and it may take him a while to get locked in, but he was excited for what he called his opening day.

Scott was used only as a DH during his five-game rehab stint, but Maddon said he "won't be afraid" to put him in the field this weekend in Colorado.

SHELLEY LEAVES: To make room for Scott, DH Shelley Duncan — who is out of options and thus can't be just sent to Triple-A Durham — was designated for assignment, giving the Rays 10 days to trade, release or pass him through waivers, after which he could be outrighted to the minors.

Maddon said "there really wasn't any other choice at this particular time," but also that Duncan had swung better than his .182 average in 20 games showed and Maddon hopes he remains in the organization.

MEDICAL MATTERS: SS Yunel Escobar, out since leaving the April 24 game with a tight right hamstring, and C Jose Molina, hit by a pitch Saturday, both returned to the lineup.

MISCELLANY: The Rays tied their 2009 team record by homering in 15 straight games. … INF Elliot Johnson excitedly reached base three times vs. his ex-mates. … LHP Mike Montgomery, one of the prospects acquired from the Royals, has been sidelined with a forearm strain. … Coaches George Hendrick, Jim Hickey and Derek Shelton joined Price at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum; Price presented a $5,000 donation from the team. … There may be combined Rays-Royals pitchers batting practice session/competition today. … Scattered thunderstorms are forecast in late afternoon.