Pirates president called MLB demanding explanation for Musgrove's ejection


Joe Musgrove felt wronged by his ejection from Monday's game, and the Pittsburgh Pirates are taking up his cause.

Pirates president Frank Coonelly was one of several members of the organization to contact Joe Torre - MLB's chief baseball officer and the person in charge of on-field discipline - to protest the handling of Musgrove's ejection, according to Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The pitcher was tossed after a first-inning benches-clearing incident with the Atlanta Braves that began when Musgrove hit Josh Donaldson with a pitch. No punches were thrown, but umpires still issued three total ejections.

"This is not right," Coonelly told Mackey in regard to Musgrove's ejection. "A man has to be able to defend himself when he's getting bull-rushed by someone who started a staring contest, didn't like the fact that the pitcher stared back at him in response to his staring, then tosses aside teammates to get to him.

"You've got to be able to defend yourself, and that can't be deemed as an aggressive act, in my judgement."

Coonelly, manager Clint Hurdle (who was also ejected), and general manager Neal Huntington each placed separate phone calls to Torre. They have yet to be returned.

"... For the game of baseball, I don't understand the decision-making," Coonelly added. "I need to have further explanation from Joe Torre and his team."

Home plate umpire Brian Gorman felt Musgrove's ejection was warranted because of specific actions that made him an instigator.

"After Donaldson was walking to first base he (Musgrove) started popping off," Gorman told the Post-Gazette's Nubyjas Wilborn after Monday's game. "The pitcher started barking back at him. He threw his glove down and wanted to fight.

"Those are actions that make him an aggressor in a brawl. If (Musgrove) doesn't confront him, then he stays in the game."

The Pirates' public criticism came after Musgrove sounded off, saying the blame should be solely on Donaldson for escalating matters. Donaldson, meanwhile, claimed he felt challenged by Musgrove.

"I wasn't really upset at all about the hit-by-pitch," the former MVP told David O'Brien of The Athletic. "I mean, it barely clipped me. But most of the time, if someone hits you, they're not (staring at you). I felt like he came down the mound afterward. I looked away to try to give him a chance to kind of look away from me. He kept coming down the mound and looking at me.

"I felt like obviously he had a problem with something, so … and then as soon as the catcher put his hands on me, I wasn't pleased with that."

The Braves and Pirates have three games left in this week's series at SunTrust Park. It's the final time they'll meet this season.

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