Kansas City manager Trey Hillman was suspended one game by Major League Baseball for spitting in an umpire's eye, something Hillman said was entirely accidental if it happened at all.
Hillman got word of the suspension Wednesday morning, just hours before his second-place Royals played first-place Detroit in the AL Central. On Monday, while arguing that a called third strike on Willie Bloomquist was low, Hillman was ejected from the dugout by plate umpire Paul Emmel. Hillman then sprang from the dugout and argued heatedly face-to-face with him.
"Suspended because while I was arguing spit reportedly came out of my mouth and hit him in the eye," Hillman said. "I didn't see it come out. There were raindrops falling. It takes a pretty talented person to be able to spit and yell at the same time. I was yelling. There was obviously no intent.
"If they think that it was intentional, I'm very much offended."
Bench coach John Gibbons was picked to manage the game Wednesday against Detroit.
Hillman said the umpire immediately accused him of spitting.
"He said, 'You just spit in my eye. You spit in my eye.' He said it twice and then played it up," Hillman said.
The ejection was the fourth of Hillman's career and first this season. He also was fined by Bob Watson, baseball's vice president for discipline, who called the actions "inappropriate."
"It's a little bit shocking to me that nobody from Major League Baseball would ask my side of it, that you'd have a game taken away from you and suspended 5 hours before game time in a division race," he said.
Hillman said he always makes a point of showing the umpires respect.
"I was told at the winter meetings that I had the fewest ejections of an American League _ and maybe a major league _ manager last year," he said. "I've been talked to many times by umpires, front office personnel from other clubs, our club, and umpiring evaluators, and it's been a consistent message: We appreciate your professionalism to the umpires."
Hillman said he hadn't decided where he would be during the game.
"I haven't gotten that far yet," he said. "Still trying to cool off a little bit."