OAKLAND — Matt Chapman’s explanation for his fourth inning ejection during the A’s 3-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels at the Oakland Coliseum Wednesday: “I wanted to stand up for my teammates.”
The A’s third baseman was tossed from the game by home plate umpire Mike Everitt after he exchanged words with Angels catcher Juan Graterol, who accused him and his teammates of stealing signs.
Chapman said he took exception to the catcher’s charges and Everitt’s insistence that the matter had been, “handled.”
“They thought that we were relaying signs to our hitters from second base. They also thought that a couple guys on our team were peeking at the catcher’s signs when we were digging into the box,” Chapman said.
“The catcher kept staring at every single hitter as we were digging into the box and that’s not a very comfortable feeling having the catcher staring at you when you’re digging into the box. It’s a little disrespectful, to be honest.”
The conflict comes in the wake of commissioner Rob Manfred’s confirmation Tuesday that Major League Baseball is investigating the Boston Red Sox for allegedly using an Apple Watch to electronically read and relay signs against the New York Yankees.
Chapman indicated that he wasn’t necessarily ejected for spatting with Graterol Tuesday, but because he continued to argue with Everitt after the umpire tried to defuse the war of words.
“That’s when things came together,” Chapman said.
“He said it had already been handled, and I guess if I’d thought it had been handled already, I wouldn’t have said anything. If it had been handled he wouldn’t have been continually staring at us still while we were getting in the box.”
Manager Bob Melvin is “surprised” that Chapman got bounced during the exchange with Everitt.
“I’m not going to talk about the nuances, but I am surprised at how it started and how it ended,” the A’s manager said.
“For me, the whole bit, I thought, was a little unusual. But a win’s a win.”
The rookie third baseman believes the Angels were trying to throw the young squad off its game through intimidation tactics.
“I wanted to stand up for my teammates and stand up for myself,” he said. “Even though we are a young group of guys, I feel that we deserve to be treated just like anyone else in the big leagues and respected by our opponents.”
The Angels catcher also had words with center fielder Mark Canha in the second and he made similar accusations toward right fielder Chad Pinder early in the game.
“He said, stop looking at my signs,” Canha said. “I’ve never done that ever in my career.
“I think he thought I was trying to peek, which I’ve never done. But then when they did it to Pinder earlier, I was like, that’s just a (manager Mike) Scioscia, Angels, Graterol tactic to make young players feel uncomfortable or something. They’re just trying to get in my head.”
Canha appreciates that Chapman took it upon himself to stick up for the group.
“Obviously, he cares about the team, and he cares about me and Pinder, and he wants to say something,” the outfielder said. “It’s important to have each other’s back. It was a nice thing to do. I told him we’d rather have him in the game than sticking up for me, but you can only take so much.”
Chapman said he’s relieved that the A’s managed to pull out the win without him, snapping their season-high eight-game losing streak.
“Obviously, I feel bad coming out of the lineup,” he said. “I wanted to stand up for my team, but then once you get thrown out of the game, you felt like you let your team down.”