Dave Dombrowski defends Girardi against Rizzo's 'improper' comment originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski had a measured response to his manager being called a "con artist" by a rival official.
"It's totally improper, in my opinion," Dombrowski said Wednesday, hours after his Washington Nationals counterpart, Mike Rizzo, fired harsh criticism at Joe Girardi in the wake of Girardi's asking umpires to check if Nats ace Max Scherzer was doctoring the baseball Tuesday night.
Scherzer was found to be clean during the fourth-inning inspection. After the fifth inning, he stared down Girardi and the Phillies manager came out of the dugout to challenge a couple of Washington coaches who were screaming obscenities at him.
Rizzo, speaking on a Washington radio station Wednesday morning, accused Girardi of gamesmanship. He blamed the Phillies for the incident and said it was "embarrassing" for Girardi, the team and baseball in general.
He went on to say he'd known Girardi for decades and called the Phillies skipper "a con artist."
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"Joe Girardi is the furthest thing from a con man of anybody that I know," Dombrowski said. "He's a very sincere individual. He was within his rights. In fact, I'll tell you, I've called the Commissioner's office. And because there is part of this rule that says if the umpires think you are playing gamesmanship that they can refuse to go out to the mound and check the pitcher. And they can also suspend you. That's part of the rule."
"(Representatives from the Commissioner's office) already have talked to the umpires. The umpires felt it was completely legitimate because they saw the same thing that Joe saw, (Scherzer) going to his hair. So they thought it was a legitimate check. If they didn't feel it was appropriate, they would have said we're not going to do it.
"That wasn't gamesmanship. It was a situation where he felt, per the rules, he wanted to have him checked."
Girardi sloughed off Rizzo's comments.
"I don't have a problem with it," he said. "Obviously, he's going to protect his club and he's entitled to his own opinion, but so am I. That's America, right?"
During Tuesday night's incident, Girardi exchanged words with Washington hitting coach Kevin Long. Long cursed at Girardi from the Nationals' dugout and Girardi called him on before being stopped by an umpire and ejected from the game.
Long, at one time, was the New York Yankees' hitting coach during Girardi's time managing that club. Long did not have his contract renewed after the 2014 season and moved on to the New York Mets before joining the Nationals.
Girardi said he had not communicated with Long in the wake of Tuesday night's incident.
He was asked if he was still upset by Long's actions.
"I didn't care for it," Girardi said. "That's their opinion and their option to do. But I don't necessarily have to like it. Just like they don't have to like what I do."
Dombrowski said he was not sure whether Girardi would face disciplinary action from the Commissioner's office.
And he re-emphasized that his manager is not a con artist.
"I've known Mike Rizzo for a long time," Dombrowski said. "This isn't the first time I've ever seen Mike say something that's an emotional comment.
"Joe's not a con man, that's not Joe Girardi," Dombrowski said. "In fact, I could tell he was bothered by what took place. I saw him after the game yesterday and I saw him this morning and I know part of it is because he has some friends on the other side who said some things that I heard was not very nice. If you're a con man, that type of stuff doesn't bother you. He's a very legitimate, sincere individual and he's trying to do the best he can to win a baseball game — by the rules."