ST. LOUIS – It was just one small, hot moment in a long, long season. But a much larger purpose and long-term vision was at play when Cubs manager Joe Maddon let home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn have it in the sixth inning Wednesday night.
“I’d had enough,” said Maddon, whose jawing from the dugout finally got him ejected by Reyburn during Starlin Castro’s at-bat leading off the sixth inning of the Cubs’ 6-5 win – at which point, Maddon rushed the field and got loud in Reyburn’s face.
“It was the whole game. It was egregiously bad,” said Maddon, who saw Reyburn’s strike zone for the Cubs — especially rookies Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler and Addison Russell — as a continuation of a recent double-standard trend compared to some of the Cardinal veterans the Cubs are facing this week.
“You cannot permit that to happen,” Maddon said. “We’re trying to ascend, and we’re not going to take that from anybody, anywhere, anytime. We’re playing a veteran club, with a veteran battery, and you’ve got guys that barely have a month in the big leagues – I’m not going to take it. Our guys deserve equal treatment. I’m not going to take it.”
The three rookies struck out six times combined, including a pair of called strikeouts on Bryant and Soler. Bryant’s came on a 3-2 pitch he thought was bad enough he uncharacteristically started heading to first before the call.
After the game, Bryant wouldn’t talk about the strike zone. But he said it was “great” to see Maddon defend the rookies.
“It definitely gives us that extra edge, that we really want to go out there and perform for him and do well,” Bryant said. “That’s pretty cool to see.”
The ejection was the second of the season for Maddon, who had many such ejections with his former Tampa Bay Rays team as it underwent the same kind of growing pains and fight for respect.
“I’m not going to put up with anything. I’m not,” said Maddon, who praised the rookies for maintaining their poise. “We’re trying to get something done here, and I’m not going to permit our guys to get shortchanged based on the fact they haven’t been here a long time.”