CLEVELAND - Rays outfielder Tommy Pham put into words Saturday what seemed obvious by his actions at the end of Friday’s game — that he was frustrated by Eric Cooper’s called third strike.
Pham first showed his displeasure by trying to talk to Cooper, who didn’t want to engage, and then more demonstratively by breaking his bat — made out of maple, by the way — over his right knee.
"I was just really mad, man,'' Pham said. "I was mad. I felt like both strikeouts he missed pitches out of the strike zone on me.''
Pham said it was the first time he broke a bat over his knee, a move done famously, and repeatedly, by Bo Jackson during his big-league career.
Asked if he was hurt in doing so, Pham said: "I’m all right, I’m a spartan. My mom asked me about that yesterday. She said, Are you all right? I said you need to be asking the bat.''
Pham did make clear he was not happy with Cooper, for what he called and how he treated him after the game.
"He’s a veteran umpire, he knows the zone, I expect better from him,'' Pham said. "That one at the end of the game like that, when I tried to talk to him he just completely ignored me. I felt like I at least deserved some kind of respect. ... He just wanted to go home.''
The Rays were trailing 3-1 at the time, though with a runner on first Pham represented the tying run in facing Indians closer Brad Hand, which added to his frustration.
"I’m not saying we would have won, but Brad would have to throw another pitch in the zone to get me out, and with me facing him the night before, and I have a couple hits off him in my career, I know what he has to offer,'' Pham said. "I liked my chances last night.''
Pham hit into outs his first two times up Saturday, then singled to extend his hitting streak to 11 games. He later homered, giving him six straight games with an extra-base hit.