By Mark Schmetzer
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
CINCINNATI _ Reds star Joey Votto isn’t saying much about his home plate tantrum.
Votto turned 32 on Thursday and was in the starting lineup against St. Louis, a day after his volatile argument with umpire Bill Welke during Cincinnati’s 5-4 loss to Pittsburgh.
“I’m not going to talk about the exchange last night,” he said.
The Canadian first baseman said he hadn’t been contacted by Major League Baseball about a possible penalty. Any decision would likely come Friday.
“No, I haven’t heard anything from the league, and yes, I am in today’s starting lineup,” Votto said.
Votto, a Toronto native, was ejected after he tried to call time in the eighth inning following a second called strike. The 2010 NL MVP threw down his batting helmet, yelled at Welke from close range and seemed to spray spit on the umpire.
Reds teammates and umpire Laz Diaz intervened and restrained Votto from getting back at Welke.
Votto didn’t talk to reporters after the game.
The ejection was Votto’s third of the season and seventh of his career. He was suspended for one game after bumping umpire Chris Conroy on May 6 in Pittsburgh.
Reds manager Bryan Price also was ejected.
“I’ve done some investigative work _ made a couple of phone calls _ to try and get a better understanding of what happened and why and the perspective of the umpires,” Price said before Thursday night’s game. “I’ve talked to Joey and I think he feels like he handled the situation as he should.”
Price said he was trying to figure out one aspect of the dispute.
“If you ask for timeout, you get timeout,” Price said.
Reminded that granting the request is at the umpire’s discretion, Price said, “Usually that’s when a pitcher is already in his motion. If he’s not ready to throw and you ask for timeout, you should get it.”
“I think (Welke) came to his own conclusion as to why Joey called timeout. It will be real interesting to see how this plays out,” he said.
Votto had has a good season, hitting .316 with 27 home runs, during a tough year for the last-place Reds.
Votto had issues with several strike calls during the three-game series against Pittsburgh. He and Price also briefly argued about the foul tip that was strike three to end Tuesday’s 7-3 loss to the Pirates.
Plate umpire James Hoye ruled that catcher Chris Stewart caught the ball before it hit the dirt and third base umpire John Tumpane agreed on appeal. Votto and Price maintained that the ball hit the dirt before being gathered in by Stewart, an opinion later confirmed by replay.