You can’t do that
Managers usually want players to use their heads while running the bases, but it got Diamondbacks outfielder Kole Calhoun called out during Monday night’s game against the Rockies.
In the bottom of the fifth, Ketel Marte hit a little flare to shallow left that was caught by Raimel Tapia, causing Calhoun to retreat back to first base. Tapia’s throw to first ate up Daniel Murphy, and Calhoun broke for second. But catcher Tony Wolters was backing up first, so Calhoun found himself in an old-fashioned pickle.
Calhoun was dead in the water and had only one thing at his disposal to save himself—his noggin. When Wolters threw down to second, Calhoun deflected the ball by headbutting it. First base umpire Rob Drake called Calhoun out for intentionally interfering with the ball. Arizona manager Torey Lovullo didn’t see it that way and was ejected after coming out to argue with Drake.
Lovullo can argue all he wants, but there’s no doubt about what Calhoun was trying to do there. He probably could have stayed still, allowed the ball to hit off his helmet completely accidentally and still been safe at second. Instead, he looked like Abby Wambach against Brazil at the 2011 World Cup.
Speaking after the game, Lovullo said he had no hard feelings toward Drake.
Calhoun said he wasn’t trying to get hit but also wasn’t trying to not get hit.
“I don’t know, man,” Calhoun said, according to MLB.com. “Like I said, it’s literally coming right at me, I have a helmet on. You just take your chances. Maybe I just stay right there, it kicks off [my head], goes into left field and now we’ve got a guy on third. I don’t know. It didn’t seem right to duck and get out of the way and let him catch it and tag me out. The ball is coming right at me and I’m going to let it hit me and take my chances.”
Regardless of his intent, crew chief Bill Miller told MLB.com that he’d never seen any player get called out for what Calhoun did.
“We have never seen that before in our career,” Miller said.
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