The Los Angeles Dodgers took the field against the San Diego Padres on Tuesday under the scope of Justin Turner appealing a one-game suspension that was handed down after he made contact with home-plate umpire Rob Drake the night prior.
Multiple players were frustrated with Drake’s strike zone in the series opener at Petco Park, and that boiled over when Turner was called out on strikes to end the game. Turner had previously voiced his disagreement with balls and strikes, and he questioned Drake at the conclusion of the game.
The two came chest to chest, which triggered the suspension and fine from MLB. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts rushed onto the field while Drake and Turner continued to exchange words as they walked toward the umpires’ room and dugout, respectively.
Upon learning of the suspension and Turner’s appeal, Roberts explained why he was surprised by the one-game ban MLB levied, as seen on SportsNet LA:
“I was a little taken aback. It’s something I know Justin is going to appeal. They’re two professionals, Rob and Justin, and Justin’s track record speaks for itself. Obviously Rob felt differently but the way I saw it, there was contact initiated by Rob as far as walking to the umpires’ room. It wasn’t trying to be super aggressive on Justin’s part. It was an emotional part of the game as far as ending the game. We’re going to appeal it, and I feel confident that Major League Baseball will look at it and come to a decision. …
“I mean, he approached him to kind of have a conversation. But as far as hitting him, that didn’t happen. And I was right there and saw that. So, I think that’s kind of protocol where the umpire files something and then you’ve got to look back.”
Roberts added he won’t call MLB chief baseball officer Joe Torre, who oversees on-field discipline and umpiring, among other areas, because of a belief Turner’s reputation carries enough weight:
“No, I’m not going to call Joe. But I do think that a player’s character and track record should matter. This is something that doesn’t happen with frequency with Justin, so that should certainly be taken into account.”
Turner did not speak after MLB announced the suspension, but said Monday night he grew upset by Drake’s assertion the pitch to end the game was down the middle of the plate. Turner also reasoned it was Drake who initiated the contact.
Turner’s one-game suspension will be held in abeyance until the appeal process is completed. He did not start Tuesday due to a planned night off.