TORONTO — Apparently even silence can have its consequences.
New York Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner learned that the hard way Friday night when he was ejected from inside his first-base line dugout in the fourth inning of the Yankees’ game at the Rogers Centre against the Toronto Blue Jays.
At the exact moment Gardner was tossed by home-plate umpire Chris Segal, cameras showed the center fielder sitting quietly on the Yankees’ bench with one hand on a bat, and another holding a water bottle.
In the foreground, Yankees manager Aaron Boone could be seen voicing his displeasure at a called strike Segal made seconds before the tossing. At the same time, outfielder Cameron Maybin, sitting near Gardner on the bench, shouted a couple of words to Segal, too.
Gardner’s ejection came in the middle of an at-bat by Yankees outfielder Mike Tauchman. After ruling a close, low pitch a strike, Segal seemed to surmise that he had had enough of the chirping from the Yankees’ dugout.
Immediately after calling the first-pitch strike, Segal took his mask off, glanced quickly in the Yankees’ direction and motioned forcefully with his right arm as he shouted: “Dugout. Gone.”
Boone hopped off his first-step perch in response, with his hands out trying to figure out who exactly had been ejected. Segal told him it was Gardner. Boone began to argue the ejection, telling the umpire that it was him who had been shouting at him, and not the player.
Time went by before Gardner realized he was kicked out of the game. About 45 seconds after the ejection, a Yankees assistant sitting next to him on the bench told him he was the one who had been booted. In disbelief, Gardner jogged out onto the field to find out the news for himself.
“I didn’t say anything,” Gardner could be seen saying to umpires. “I didn’t say a word. Not one word. Not one word.”
Very quickly, his plea for innocence turned into anger. Upset over the ejection, Gardner started hopping in the direction of Segal and crew chief and first-base umpire Dan Iassogna as Boone and Tauchman tried holding him back. Gardner slipped their grasps a couple of times, but never got particularly close to the umps.
Eventually, Gardner was walked back toward the Yankees’ dugout by Boone and Iassogna before collecting his batting gloves and a bat and walking down the steps that led back toward the Yankees’ clubhouse.
It was the fifth career ejection for the 35-year-old Gardner, and his first since Sept. 9, 2018.
While Gardner may have been silent during the at-bat that led to his ejection, moments prior, he could be seen making a racket in the dugout as the Yankees bemoaned a called third strike on outfielder Cameron Maybin, the hitter who batted one spot before Tauchman.
As Maybin took a pitch that was just below the strike zone tracker used by game broadcasters the YES Network and Sportsnet Canada, Gardner was in the dugout jamming his bat into its roof. At the same time, Boone and bench coach Josh Bard were yelling at the umpire about the call.
Gardner was sitting in about the same spot in the dugout during both close calls.
Following his ejection, Gardner was replaced in the batting order by Aaron Judge, who had been getting the day off. Judge checked in in right field, forcing Maybin, who started in right, to move to left field, and Tauchman to move from left field to center, where Gardner had been playing.
Tauchman’s fourth-inning at-bat ended with a different set of fireworks. He homered to right to put the Yankees on the scoreboard for the first time in the game. It was his 12th homer of the season.