Madison Bumgarner’s on-mound demeanor could be described using many different words; I’ll go with “cantankerous,” but depending upon your perspective anything from “fired-up” to “dickish” can be appropriate. So when Jason Heyward stood around seemingly staring at Bumgarner after taking a called third strike yesterday, Bumgarner didn’t appreciate it:
But wait! Heyward wasn’t going at Bumgarner, he was angrily staring at teammate Dexter Fowler on second base:
“You looking at me?” Bumgarner appeared to repeat, as players on both teams quickly formed a wall between the two players.
Heyward said no, he wasn’t looking at Bumgarner. He looked at teammate Dexter Fowler, who was standing on second base.
“It looked like he was upset with him,” Bumgarner said. “There’s only one reason he could be doing that.”
That’s even worse! Heyward wasn’t beefing with Bumgarner, he was standing on home plate getting mad at his teammate for doing a poor job stealing signs. Heyward wouldn’t be that dumb, would he? No, he wouldn’t:
“He made a great pitch on me, a front-door cutter, and I’m all, `Hey Dex, what’ve you got? Ball or strike?” Heyward said. “I wasn’t trying to show anybody up, and all the sudden Buster Posey is in front of me. I’ve been playing against that batter since 2008, in the minor leagues. They play the game the right way. It was a misunderstanding.
“There’s no tipping of signs. Believe it or not. It wasn’t going on, especially in a spring training game. … It didn’t look good, but I mean, this is what people pay to see, right?
This makes a lot of sense, actually. In the more informal, practice-like setting of a spring training game, Heyward wanted to consult with the guy who had the best view of the pitch that just struck him out. He just took the very unusual step of doing so while on the diamond and in front of a cantankerous pitcher, and not when they were both back in the dugout.
This is almost assuredly nothing, and the “confrontation” resolved itself quickly and peacefully. But with the Cubs and Giants projected to be two of the best three or four teams in the National League, it’ll be fun to see if any animosity lingers into the season.