ST. LOUIS -- Braves outfielder Justin Upton was ejected during the sixth inning of Friday night's 3-1 loss to the Cardinals for screaming an expletive that he contends was a product of the frustration he felt after sending a ground ball toward second baseman Kolten Wong.
Home-plate umpire Paul Nauert did not share this opinion. Feeling the curse word was directed toward him, Nauert opted to eject Upton as he was running toward first base.
"If I can't get frustrated with myself and say what I want to myself, it's sad," Upton said. "It's really sad. We play this game and we work hard and we get frustrated with ourselves. I have no clue what he heard. It's sad."
Upton heard Nauert yell for the ejection as he was going down the first-base line. Still, he ran through the bag before racing back toward the plate in an irate manner to confront the umpire. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez stood between the two as Upton vehemently issued a few more choice words before being pushed toward the dugout by first-base coach Terry Pendleton.
"I don't want to get into the details of the whole thing, but I didn't think it was a good ejection," Gonzalez said. "I don't think there is a right time and a wrong time to eject people. But I don't think when the guy is running away from you, whatever he said, it's not a good ejection."
Upton, Gonzalez and Freddie Freeman, who was on deck when this transpired, chose not to say what word or words might have been misunderstood by Nauert.
"He misinterpreted one of the words, and to be honest with you, Freddie Freeman was standing on deck," Upton said. "He heard it loud and clear and he was further away. I think it was more of a sensitivity issue."
One pitch before grounding out, Upton looked at a called strike and then stared at Nauert. Three innings earlier, Upton had slammed his helmet in disgust after looking at a called third strike.
"He said two words," Freeman said. "[Nauert] heard one word and Justin didn't say that word."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less