Brett Lawrie's competitive spirit is supposed to help his team, but Tuesday's outburst – when he one-hopped his helmet into home-plate umpire Bill Miller – is likely to hurt the Toronto Blue Jays in the short term.
The third baseman was handed a four-game suspension by Major League Baseball before Wednesday's game against the New York Yankees. Lawrie, already plugged into the lineup for the game, is appealing the suspension, allowing him to take the field Wednesday night.
"I expected a suspension, but we're just going to appeal it and give my side of the story and explain it from my point of view," Lawrie said after the suspension was handed down along with an undisclosed fine. Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos said the appeal will take place "probably next week."
Lawrie was upset over two called strikes in the bottom of the ninth inning in Tuesday's 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. The 22-year-old was ejected from the game, along with Blue Jays manager John Farrell who had joined him to argue the calls.
"The only thing I regret is the helmet hitting him," he added. "I never meant to do that and it shows. I threw it off the ground and it took a bad hop and hit him totally by accident. I never meant to throw it at him. … I was just frustrated with the play at the time and that's baseball for you."
Lawrie added that he intends to seek out Miller and apologize to him in person before the game against the Yankees. The same crew that umpired Tuesday's game is also going to oversee Wednesday's matchup.
Anthopoulos was sympathetic towards his young star's behaviour.
"It's understandable and it's a tough call like that to be upset but he's only a human being in that respect," the GM said. "He knows he shouldn't throw his helmet and he didn't throw it at anybody, it happened to bounce. If he turns a little to the right or the left he's probably not involved in any kind of suspension, but the fact that it bounced up and hit the umpire in the hip, that's why we're here."