J.T. Realmuto of Team USA hits a single in the second inning against Team Japan during the World Baseball Classic Championship at loanDepot park on March 21, 2023, in Miami.

J.T. Realmuto (10) of Team USA hits a single in the second inning against Team Japan during the World Baseball Classic Championship at loanDepot park on March 21, 2023, in Miami. (Megan Briggs/Getty Images/TNS)

DUNEDIN, Fla. — J.T. Realmuto couldn't believe his ears.

Reliever Craig Kimbrel had just been called for a pitch-clock violation in the bottom of the fourth inning of a Grapefruit League game against the Blue Jays. Kimbrel asked for a new baseball. Realmuto, the Phillies' catcher, reached back for a replacement from home plate umpire Randy Rosenberg. Then Realmuto saw Kimbrel's eyes raise to the sky. He figured Rosenberg had thrown Kimbrel the new ball himself, so Realmuto retracted his glove.

Next thing he knew, Rosenberg was throwing him out. Miscommunication, Realmuto claims.

Rosenberg had been placing a ball in Realmuto's glove when it was retracted. The ball fell to the ground, and Rosenberg looked a bit foolish. So, he ejected Realmuto — the first time he has been tossed in his nearly 2,000 professional games. Everybody's cranky at the end of spring training.

As he reviewed the tape in the visitors' clubhouse at TD Ballpark, Realmuto was less angry than incredulous.

"How does he expect me to know he's giving me the ball right there?" Realmuto asked. "I'm not even looking at him."

Realmuto said Rosenberg contended that Realmuto was trying to show him up because Realmuto was upset about the pitch-clock violation.

"I said, 'Dude, I thought you were throwing the ball,'" Realmuto said. "He said, 'I'm not gonna buy that.'"

Rosenberg is a triple-A umpire and a major league "call-up umpire" eligible for spring training games and as a fill-in during the regular season, an "up-down" guy, said crew chief Dan Iassogna. He did not make Rosenberg available; it is common in controversial situations for only the crew chief to address such situations.

Did Iassogna, as Rosenberg's proxy, think Rosenberg acted hastily?

"Did Randy act hastily? No," Iassogna said. "I believe Randy felt like the situation warranted an ejection, and that's what he did."

It didn't seem to warrant any reaction at all, but umps are human, too. Perhaps the atmosphere of tension surrounding the new pitch-clock rules and the general crankiness that accompanies a late spring training game on a muggy afternoon made everybody a little wonky.

"Definitely, something happened between [Rosenberg and] either Kimbrel or Realmuto, from where I was," Iassogna said.

So, what did he think happened?

"I couldn't tell from my position at second base what was going on, but I knew it must be in relation to the pitch-clock violation," Iassogna said. "Once I saw the ejection, I knew it was either Kimbrel or J.T. that got run."

J.T., it turned out.

Realmuto claims he didn't say anything to Rosenberg before or during the incident. Did Rosenberg tell Iassogna that Realmuto said something improper at some point?

"He didn't say that he said anything," Iassogna said, "but he didn't tell me he didn't say anything."

Iassogna said the crew will follow the routine that follows any ejection: reviewing the tape and submitting a report to MLB.

Was there some history between the catcher and the ump? No. Realmuto said he'd never crossed paths with Rosenberg before. Of course, now they have a history.

Kind of a funny history.

"Now that I see why he got me ... it was perfect timing," Realmuto said. "First time I was ejected. It was a soft way to get thrown out."

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