Jerry Hairston Jr., who was suspended for a game Sunday after Major League Baseball said he made contact with home plate umpire Ed Hickox in an argument during Friday's game, said he never pushed, shoved or cursed at the umpire, and believes video of the incident will be enough to get the suspension overturned.
Hairston turned to argue with Hickox in the seventh inning Friday night, after he asked for time and stepped out of the batter's box before a 1-2 pitch from Clayton Richard. Hairston said Hickox granted him time, though video shows he didn't step all the way out of the batter's box and Hickox never signaled to Richard that time had been called. Richard threw a pitch to the plate, which Hairston popped up, and the infielder immediately turned to argue with Hickox, rather than running to first.
While Hairston believes he was quick-pitched after being granted time, saying his former teammate has a habit of delivering before hitters are ready, it's unclear whether Hairston had been granted time, or if he'd asked for it before Richard started his delivery.
The reason for the suspension, though, came during the argument at home plate; MLB said this morning that Hairston made contact with Hickox, adding it was suspending him for "aggressive actions." The video shows Hairston might have grazed Hickox's shoulder after he'd been ejected, and he clearly, if inadvertently, bumped into umpire Brian O'Nora when O'Nora came over to join in the argument between Hairston, Hickox and manager Jim Riggleman. But Hairston said he didn't try to make aggressive contact with the umpires.
"The Nationals just showed me the video from every angle, and it obviously showed I didn't push or shove him," Hairston said. "I don't know what they were seeing. It's clear as day in the video that that wasn't the case. Hey, I made a strong argument. I felt like I was in the right. This is the big leagues, man. You're going to have your ups and downs as far as disagreements with umpires. I respect every umpire, and never have I pushed or shoved an umpire, and I never will. I never cussed at him. I was pleading my case, and that's all I did. Sometimes I can be a very emotional guy, very headstrong, so I can be a little more showy at times. But I never pushed or shoved him. The video speaks loud and clear."
Hairston said he didn't know why Hickox threw him out, though he wasn't surprised to get fined after being thrown out, and understood that part of it after an animated argument.
"This isn't the YMCA. This is the major leagues," he said.
Hickox had given him time a few seconds before, when Richard threw over to first with Danny Espinosa on the base. Hairston asked for it late a second time, and didn't get it.
"I know in the heat of the game, sometimes, you're not going to catch everything," Hairston said. "That's why I asked for help, and then I got ejected. Clearly, I went around him. I didn't push him. I didn't shove him. Look at the video; I just saw every angle. The video speaks loud and clear."
Hairston said he'd never had any issues with Hickox, adding he likes the crew. Hickox was at third base yesterday, where Hairston was playing, and Hairston said the two made up. But he's appealing because he didn't think he did anything to warrant a suspension.
"If I did something wrong, guys, I would admit it," Hairston said. "As you guys know, if I did something wrong, I would step up. But like I said, I never pushed or shoved him, and the video shows that."
The umpiring crew has not yet responded to a request for comment.