You’ve seen the quotes from the Rays’ side about the Joel Peralta ejection due to illegal use of pine tar, courtesy of MASNsports.com’s Pete Kerzel.
Now let’s hear from the Nationals.
Manager Davey Johnson said postgame that he had gotten word from people within the organization that Peralta (who pitched for the Nats in 2010) is fond of putting pine tar in his glove, which can help create a better grip on the baseball during a hot night like tonight.
“He pitched here. I don’t think it’s a secret,” Johnson said.
Johnson declined to specify who exactly tipped him off, but there are plenty of options, be it guys that pitched with Peralta here in D.C., at other stops along his lengthy career or coached him along the way. First base coach Trent Jewett was Peralta’s manager with Triple-A Syracuse in 2010, while pitching coach Steve McCatty worked with the righty when he joined the Nats that year.
“There (were) conversations before the game,” Johnson said. “He was out there and I was talking to some of the guys and I said, ‘How’d we let this guy get away?’ I thought he pitched pretty good for us and I saw he’s been a kind of invaluable set-up man for Tampa Bay. One thing led to another and I got probably more information than I really needed. I don’t know.”
Johnson was “hesitant” to call Peralta on it during the game, but before the start of the eighth inning, with Peralta ready to face Steve Lombardozzi leading off the frame, Johnson popped out of the dugout to talk to home plate umpire and crew chief Tim Tschida.
“Tim was looking at me, kind of grinning,” Johnson said. “He said ‘Oh, what do you want?’ So I walked out and said, ‘Well, I want you to check him. Just to make sure. I’m curious.’ “
What Tschida found was a “significant amount of pine tar” on the inside of Peralta’s glove, by his hand. The righty was ejected, and on came lefty Jake McGee, who promptly set the Nats down in order.
“The left-hander put us down 1-2-3, so it was probably a bad move,” Johnson joked.
With two outs in the next half-inning, Rays manager Joe Maddon (who was less than thrilled about Johnson’s decision to call out Peralta) exacted a little revenge by having Tschida check Nats reliever Ryan Mattheus.
“I told Joe Maddon that this isn’t going to go on all night,” Tschida told a pool reporter. “So if you want to challenge, you get one. So pick the guy you want and make it count.”
Mattheus was the guy Maddon wanted checked. Knowing he was clean, Mattheus gladly handed over his glove and hat for Tschida to inspect, and had a giant smile on his face during the whole process. Instead of being offended that he was being labeled as a possible cheater, the 28-year-old took the whole thing in stride.
“Oh, I’m not going to take it personal. It’s gamesmanship,” Mattheus said. “We did it to them. I’m sure they wanted to make sure that we weren’t at an unfair advantage with something sticky in our gloves and stuff like that. I didn’t take it as an insult at all.
“I figured it was going to come. I thought it would come sooner than it came with two outs. I don’t know why they waited that long, but I figured it was coming.”