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Saturday, July 11, 2020

Report: Nationals GM nearly fought Shawn Kelley after mound outburst

The Washington Nationals had a lot happen to their bullpen in the span of a week, but the Shawn Kelley saga was the most remarkable. A new behind-the-scenes look shows that there was even more there than met the eye.

Nationals reliever Shawn Kelley threw his glove on the mound in frustration after giving up a three-run homer in a game the Nationals had been leading 25-1. It was interpreted by general manager Mike Rizzo and some teammates as showing up manager Dave Martinez, staring him down because he didn’t attempt to defend him when Kelley was unhappy with the umpiring.

When Rizzo confronted Kelley after that game, according to Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post, the two began arguing, and nearly came to blows before being separated by outfielder Adam Eaton. Nationals pitchers Max Scherzer and Ryan Madson also confronted Kelley, who was designated for assignment the next day.

Kelley has maintained all along that his frustration was with the umpiring, not with Martinez.

Rizzo may have had the team’s backing when moving Kelley, who is now with the Oakland Athletics, but the bullpen has undeniably suffered for it. They also traded Brandon Kintzler to the Chicago Cubs amid rumors that he was the source behind a story that portrayed the Washington clubhouse as dysfunctional, which both Kintzler and the author of the piece, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan, denied. Whether those players deserved to go or not is a matter of debate, but a series of late-inning collapses in August indicates that they could have used the help.

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