NEW YORK — Lost in the on-field kerfuffle Monday night after Bryce Harper was tossed and before Jake Arrieta's pointed postgame comments was the slight contact Phillies manager Gabe Kapler appeared to make with home plate umpire Mark Carlson when he went out to argue the ejection.
Kapler power-walked past the on-deck circle to defend his rightfielder and Harper raced out behind him. As Kapler was pushing Harper out of the way to protect the player from saying or doing anything worse, he appeared to nudge Carlson.
After the game, Carlson said there was physical contact from Harper bumping Kapler into him. When Carlson was asked if the contact was intentional or incidental, crew chief Brian Gorman said that will be up to Major League Baseball.
Why does it matter? Because if Kapler's contact was deemed intentional or inappropriate, he could face discipline. As a manager with no history of on-field transgressions, the discipline would figure to be light if it comes at all.
On Tuesday afternoon, MLB's chief baseball officer Joe Torre gave Kapler a phone call to gather his side of the story.
"He called not that long ago and basically wanted to get my side of the story before he talked to the umpires," Kapler said. "I have no idea what the procedure would be but I was very cognizant of the space I had between me and Mark and feel like I respected that.
"I felt nothing. It doesn't mean there wasn't some contact, but it wasn't like, oh [crap], there was just this bump. I didn't feel anything. My intention was always to respect the distance and the space. I never felt like I got uncomfortably close to him by any stretch.
"As always, my main goal is to protect Bryce. In those situations, you can't feel what's happening behind you. The only thing I know is that when Bryce was close to me, he also kept his distance. I thought that [Rob Thomson and Dusty Wathan] did a really good job of assisting in that situation. It was the right play to have our group out on the field making sure that's where it ended."
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