Detroit Tigers: Nicholas Castellanos and the flying helmet
The Detroit Tigers got their butts handed to them today by the Los Angeles Angels, but the focus of the day was on Nicholas Castellanos and his attitude in the dugout.
In Wednesday’s game against the Angels, the Detroit Tigers third baseman was pulled so that Andrew Romine could pinch run for him.
When Castellanos returned to the dugout, he threw his helmet against the wall. The helmet bounced back and hit Miguel Cabrera in the face. The Tigers universe immediately showed its concern about Castellanos’s attitude and Cabrera’s safety.
In response to the action that was captured on video by Fox Sports Detroit, fans called for punishment to Castellanos. Some wanted him to sit for a game and some even suggested that he be sent down to the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens for an attitude-adjustment lesson.
According to a report from Anthony Fenech with the Detroit Free Press, Brad Ausmus dealt with the situation and said:
"“Nick’s a competitive guy. He wants to run the bases. It was my call to put Romine in there. He was upset that he got pinch-run for because of his competitive nature.”"
A competitive nature is necessary and good. Especially in a professional baseball player.
Castellanos does not deserve to be punished for his action. He did not intentionally try to injure a teammate. He did not throw a big fit – he simply flung his helmet as a way to deal with his competitive spirit. Romine took Castellanos’s spot on the bases and did his job. Castellanos may not have liked it, but he did what he was told.
Some fans and critics argued that Cabrera is worth millions to the Tigers and his teammates should be more careful around him. That is ridiculous. Of course, no one (except opposing teams) wants any of the Tigers to be injured. Castellanos did not intend to have his helmet bounce off of Cabrera’s face and it is clear that he immediately went to Cabrera to be sure he was ok. Bats fly into dugouts. Foul balls fly into dugouts. While Cabrera obviously was not looking for a flying helmet, baseball players know that the dugout is not the safest place on the planet.
In the same piece from Fenech, Ausmus addressed the helmet toss:
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"“People throw their helmet in baseball all the time.”"
Just last season, (ironically, in a game against the Angels) on August 27, Victor Martinez threw his helmet in the dugout. This was the game where four Tigers were ejected by Mike Everitt, beginning with Martinez.
If you watch the dugout after bad at-bats or bad calls, players often show their frustrations – some throw their helmets, some chirp at the umpires, and some stomp into the clubhouse. It’s part of the game. Castellanos’s reaction is just a reaction, nothing more, nothing less. People groan about their bosses all of the time. Castellanos doesn’t have an office door to slam. But, he had a helmet.
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If Ausmus or Al Avila had sent Castellanos to Toledo or sat him for the day, he would not have hit his home run in the game today.