I served as the pool reporter tonight, asking umpire Jeff Nelson for his take on the double play ball in the second inning in which Rangers pitcher Justin Grimm was shown to have caught the relay, rather than first baseman Mitch Moreland. Nelson, a 15-year umpiring veteran was very cooperative, and willingly answered questions in the umpire’s room while crew chief Jim Joyce listened. Here’s a transcript, beginning with his general explanation of what happened:
“When you umpire that play, your focus goes to the bag, and you watch the foot touch the bag and listen for the ball hitting the mitt. In this case, I ruled the ball was caught by the first baseman, and the ball was actually caught by the pitcher. The pitcher kind of came out of nowhere on that play. I didn’t pick that up. Obviously, looking at the replays, I wish I had.”
When did you finally see it? “I saw a replay after the game. The first baseman for Texas told me a couple of innings later that the pitcher had caught the ball and not him. That’s when I had an indication maybe the pitcher had actually caught the ball.”
Could others on crew have helped you out? “If they have something for me, they won’t hesitate, because I’ve worked with these guys a lot. They won’t hesitate to give me assistance if they have something that can help me with that. At the same time, they also have other assignments during that play because of the nature of the play with multiple runners.”
Did it make you feel any better that Eric Wedge and others didn’t see the pitcher catch it, either? “I haven’t seen a play like this in 25 years. Eric was very professional in how he came out. But there’s never any consolation in a thing like this, because it’s your job to get it right. We’re competitive, too, and we want to get things right. So I’d love to say it makes you feel better, but you’re angry just like everybody else that you ruled otherwise.”
Reaction when Mitch Moreland, the Texas first baseman, told you? “I’ll kind of leave that up to everyone else to figure out. But we’re competitive and we like to get things right, and when we don’t, we’re just like anybody else. We want to get things right.”
(Nelson politely declined to answer an instant replay question. “The replay thing is another beast,” he said).