Visibly upset with the strike zone as he stood in the batter’s box, Jordany Valdespin threw his head up and sighed. It was only strike two in the bottom of the third inning, but Valdespin could not seem to let the call pass.
After he struck out, he stayed in the box and had a heated exchange with the home plate umpire, Mike Everitt. The argument continued all the way back to the dugout, until Everitt ejected him from game.
Then Valdespin stepped from the dugout to continue arguing and pointing his finger at Everitt, a major league umpire on a rehab assignment after an injury. The manager, Andy Haines, ran from his position as third base coach to restrain Valdespin and force him back into the dugout.
Before he left for the clubhouse, Valdespin threw two bats from the dugout onto the field and the crowd applauded. The Zephyrs went on to win, 3-2.
“He has a lot of passion and energy and I think sometimes that probably gets him in trouble,” Haines said. “He’s got to channel it in the right direction. It’s one of those things that’s unfortunate because he’s such a big part of our team, and it hurts when he’s not in there.”
Valdespin has played 160 games in the majors with the New York Mets. He was unsigned this season until he joined the Zephyrs on May 2 after extended spring training and is hitting .275 with a triple, four doubles and two home runs.
Haines said he did not expect Valdespin to be suspended, although he said Valdespin will almost certainly be fined.
Despite losing him, the Zephyrs won their third consecutive game to cut the Nashville Sounds’ lead in the Pacific Coast League American Southern division to two and a half games. The Zephyrs caught a bit of a break to score the winning runs. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Sounds reliever Michael Blazek fielded a ground ball back to the mound and fired an errant throw over the first baseman’s head and into right field. Two runs would score and the Zephyrs secured a 3-2 lead.
“It’s nice to be on the right side of some of these one-run games and these—I call them hard-fought games,” Haines said. “You need a big hit, you need to make a play, and we’re on the right side of a couple of them.”
The Zephyrs sent starter Alex Sanabia to the mound for his second start for the Zephyrs. He was acquired by Triple-A Reno, where he posted an 8.10 E.R.A. and a record of 0-1. He won his New Orleans debut Monday against Oklahoma City after throwing five scoreless innings with no walks and five strikeouts.
In the first inning of Saturday’s game, Zephyrs shortstop Josh Rodriguez launched a ball over the left field fence that was originally ruled a home run, but the umpires overturned the call and ruled the ball foul. Rodriguez would end up with a single and a stolen base anyway, but failed to score.
The Sounds struck twice in the third inning off Sanabia, plating runs after a R.B.I. double from Eugenio Velez and a single from Sean Halton scored him.
New Orleans answered in the fifth when Rodriguez drove in a run with a single into left field with the bases loaded. But Sounds starter Brad Mills escaped without any further damage.
Mills entered the game fourth in the Pacific Coast League with a 2.05 earned run average, the best WHIP in the league at 0.91. Opposing batters are hitting .197 against him. Mills lasted five innings while allowing one run on four hits and struck out seven.
The Zephyrs continue a four-game series with the Sounds today.