Warning altered Qualls’ approach slightly
Home plate umpire Jerry Layne walked to the mound to talk to D-backs’ closer Chad Qualls last night before the start of the ninth inning and appeared to be explaining something to the right-hander.
I asked Qualls before batting practice what Layne had said to him.
“He just wanted me to know that both teams had been warned,” Qualls said. “He said he wasn’t going to take the inside part of the plate away from me, but he wanted me to know that if I hit someone he was going to throw me out of the game. I told him there was no way I was hitting anyone on purpose, I promise.”
Knowing that hitting a batter would result in an immediate ejection changed how Qualls approached certain hitters that inning. Without wanting to get into specifics lest he let Dodger hitters know how his game plan against him, Qualls was leery about using his two-seam fastball inside to right-handers.
“My two-seamer is going to go in on a right-hander,” Qualls said. “So if I go into a righty and run one too far in and it gets away from me, they turn into heat-seeking missiles and they just go right at them. I just wanted to make sure I didn’t hit a guy with a fastball. Because if you hit a guy with a slider in the foot or something even with warnings out, it’s up to the umpire’s discretion to kick you out or not because if it’s an off-speed pitch they know you’re not trying to hit a guy.
“But if I hit a guy with a 92 mph fastball, I’m gone. So I just had to make sure if I did go in on a righty I was real careful.”
Qualls went inside with a fastball to Orlando Hudson, who was hitting left-handed. He was less cautious against lefties because the natural movement on his fastball would have taken it away from the batter even if he did throw it a little too far inside.
Just a little bit of information I found interesting and wanted to pass along and something to keep in mind next time you see warnings issued in a game.