The initial reaction was puzzlement and surprise, but manager Trey Hillman soon turned angry as the reality of his fine and suspension sank in Wednesday morning prior to the Royals' series finale against Detroit at Kauffman Stadium.
Hillman received a one-game ban and an undisclosed fine for "inappropriate actions" in his argument Monday with umpire Paul Emmel. That spat came in the eighth inning of a 13-1 loss to the Tigers and resulted in Hillman's ejection from the game.
"I was suspended," Hillman said, "because while I was arguing, spit reportedly came out of my mouth and hit (Emmel) in the eye. I didn't see it. 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. Sometimes spit comes out. There was absolutely no intent." What rankled most for Hillman is he wasn't offered the opportunity to present his side of the incident before the ruling by Bob Watson, the vice president of on-field operations for Major League Baseball.
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"I respect authority and I respect governing bodies," Hillman said, "but I don't ever like it when you're not given an opportunity to express your views. Or when there's no more research done.
"Because if there was more research done, I know what word would come back to the disciplinary board from the majority of umpires in this league."
Major League Baseball does not permit appeals from uniformed staff personnel. Bench coach John Gibbons served as the Royals' manager in Wednesday's game against the Tigers.
Monday's argument stemmed from Hillman's intervention after Willie Bloomquist disagreed with Emmel's called third strike on a pitch from Tigers reliever Zach Miner. Bloomquist admitted he told Emmel the pitch was low while walking back toward the dugout.
When Emmel followed Bloomquist, Hillman spoke out. Baseball's rules prohibit all uniformed personnel from arguing an umpire's calls on balls and strikes.
Hillman said his chief concern was the lack of an available infielder if Bloomquist got ejected. Substitutions by that point left the Royals with catcher Miguel Olivo as the only unused non-pitcher.
"(Emmel) said he gave a warning," Hillman said. "I can't hear (in the dugout). I just knew he was continuing to aggressively follow Willie Bloomquist, which when an umpire does that, most of the time they're looking to throw a guy out of the game.
"I said it twice: That pitch is down. That's all I said. Then I got thrown out from the dugout."
That ejection brought Hillman sprinting onto the field for an animated argument. Emmel pointedly turned away at one point to wipe his eye.
"If they think it was intentional," Hillman said, "I'm very much offended. As I've already said, there's a track record there. He said, 'You just spit in my eye.' He said it twice, then played it up."
Bloomquist called Hilllman's suspension a "ticky-tack" reaction by Major League Baseball.
"I think it's getting ridiculous," Bloomquist said. "If you're going to throw someone out of the game, expect to be argued with. When people yell at each other, stuff comes out of their mouth. It's not intentional."
Hillman said he learned of the suspension and fine Wednesday morning from general manager Dayton Moore and assistant general manager Dean Taylor. An e-mail confirmation arrived about five minutes later.
"My job is also to speak up for my players and argue for my players," Hillman said, "which I will continue to do regardless of whether I get suspended again. At some point in time, I'm sure I'll get an opportunity now (to explain himself). But it's a little late in my opinion."