Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler has had a gripe with umpire Angel Hernandez dating back to the four-time All-Star’s rookie season in 2006.
“I fielded a ground ball to my left in Chicago,” Kinsler recalled on Tuesday of his first run-in with Hernandez, who’s been an ump in the majors since 1991. “It was a slow-roller. I caught it, flipped it to the first baseman and kept running because it was the last out of the inning. He was out by three steps and Angel called him out.”
The next inning, things went sour.
“He started screaming at me,” Kinsler said. “For, in my recollection, no reason. For no reason he is belittling me, telling me, ‘Rookie this,’ and ‘Rookie that.’ Because he said I got in his way of making a call at first base. When I flipped the ball to first base, I ran into his line of vision.
“I’m the one playing the game. It’s your job to figure out where to go to get a view of that play. I’m not going to worry about flipping the ball and getting out of the umpire’s way. I had no idea what was going on. I was just like, ‘OK. OK. OK!”
Kinsler’s relationship with Hernandez came to a head on Monday night, when the 12-year veteran asked the ump “What about that one?” after a ball in the fifth inning. Kinsler was ejected. Tigers manager Brad Ausmus then came out to argue, and was also tossed.
A day after Detroit’s 6-2 loss without their second baseman or manager, they fell again to the Texas Rangers, 10-4. Then Kinsler went all in on Hernandez.
“No, I’m surprised at how bad an umpire he is,” Kinsler said. “I don’t know how, for as many years he’s been in the league, that he can be that bad. He needs to reevaluate his career choice, he really does. Bottom line.”
The 35-year-old was asked if he was speaking on the record.
“Sure,” Kinsler said. “If I get fined for saying the truth, then so be it. He’s messing with baseball games, blatantly. … This has to do with changing the game. He’s changing the game. He needs to find another job. He really does. … What is he doing on the field? What is he doing out there? It’s pretty obvious he needs to stop ruining baseball games.”
Hernandez was briefed on Kinsler’s comments following the game on Tuesday, which he also umped.
“It doesn’t matter,” Hernandez said. “I have nothing to say, as a matter of fact. I’m not at liberty. I’m just an umpire. You know what we do, we go out there every day. We’re out there every day, whether it’s a day game, whether it’s a night game, just like the players, and we have a job to do — and that’s what we do.
“I’m not at liberty to discuss tit-for-tat what’s going on. As a matter of fact, I don’t even care what he said. What I care about is going out there and doing my job, to the best I can do.”
Kinser was also asked if he thought Hernandez had a personal vendetta against him.
“No,” Kinsler said. “He’s just that bad.”
According to the Detroit News, similar grievances regarding Hernandez “have been shared by players across the league off the record for years.”