By Bruce Levine —
CHICAGO (CBS) — What White Sox left-hander Derek Holland experienced Friday evening may have been a difficult mix of a lack of respect on one side and extra sensitivity on the other.
Home plate umpire Bill Welke’s shrug during Holland’s outing was termed “unprofessional” by Holland, who had another rough outing in allowing six runs in 4 1/3 innings in his team’s 9-3 loss to the Indians.
In the fourth inning, Welke walked toward the mound after Holland and disagreed on a pitch that Welke called a ball to Indians outfielder Brandon Guyer. Holland said he thought Welke had flinched as if he was going to call a strike.
“I thought it was unprofessional to tell me he was walking to the mound, to saying he was going to show me up,” Holland said. “The only thing I said was, ‘Don’t flinch like that.’ You can’t do that, it’s showing me it is a strike. The way he handled it — I thought was very unprofessional. Those guys aren’t accountable for some of those things.”
Holland wasn’t blaming the umpire for another poor effort on his part. In his last 10 starts, Holland’s ERA been above 9.00. He apologized to his bullpen teammates for putting a load on them in his outings.
Manager Rick Renteria has been supporting his players from Opening Day with much more than lip service. He has been tossed out of six games in 2017 as a result of standing up for his guys.
“If (Holland) felt that way (disrespected), he has a right to feel the way he feels,” Renteria said. “All I know is I saw someone going out toward my player in what I perceived to be a quite aggressive manner. I went out there to try and keep my player in the game. I thought there was a lot of extended respect as we were having the conversation. It was not something that was adversarial as you think.”
Losing eight straight home games during a period when the team had been decimated by trading veteran players away has torn a wide hole of sensitivity throughout the White Sox clubhouse.
The idea that players can adjust to getting their butts kicked every night just isn’t realistic. The fine line between emotional response and keeping your cool is really tested in a losing climate at a professional level.
“A the end of the day, we know the umpires have a tough job,” White Sox right-hander James Shields said. “They know we are doing everything we can to compete at the highest level every five days. There are a lot of frustrations in the game and I think they understand that. For the most part, the umpires do a great job. I just thought Derek handled himself really well yesterday, and our manager has been there for us all year.”
Renteria has the respect of all of his players in the way he has taken one for the team all year.
“Someone asked me if I have to take anger management classes,” Renteria said. “I don’t think so. I am actually a very patient person. I think the emotions run high at this level. My first instinct is to paternally help our guys in any way I can. I hope I can respond appropriately to all situations.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.