Jim Leyland talks tension with umps

Updated: July 8, 2011, 3:27 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Jim Leyland is feeling more friction between umpires and teams in recent times and says it has become a problem in baseball.

A day after the Detroit manager was among three ejections in the Tigers-Angels game, Leyland said something needs to be done to improve relations between the sides.

"We have to work harder to eliminate some of the tension," Leyland said before Detroit played Los Angeles on Wednesday. "You can feel it. That's just not a good situation. That usually causes blowups."

On Tuesday night, Leyland and Tigers ace Justin Verlander and Angels designated hitter Bobby Abreu were tossed in Detroit's 1-0 loss.

Leyland was ejected before the seventh inning during a prolonged argument with first base umpire Joe West. It was Leyland's second ejection in nine days.

The veteran manager said Joe Torre has been working to solve the issue in his new role as Major League Baseball's executive vice president of baseball operations.

"The tension level is much more than it should be, between managers, players, coaches, umpires," he said. "I know Joe is trying to get it resolved. But right now, the tension seems like it's almost worse."

Torre was a guest on ESPN Radio on Thursday and said MLB "is aware" of the problem and is trying to find ways to deal with it. He didn't get into specifics but did say demoting umpires wasn't something he'd be in favor of considering.

"I want to make the umpires feel like they're part of the game, but sometimes in that you're going to wind up banging heads and that's what we're finding now," Torre told "The Herd with Colin Cowherd" on Thursday.

Leyland We have to work harder to eliminate some of the tension. You can feel it. That's just not a good situation. That usually causes blowups."

-- Tigers manager Jim Leyland

Torre said dealing with umpires is similar to dealing with talented players when he was a manager.

"There's a responsibility with umpiring and they're all aware of that," he told ESPN Radio. "If we find that responsibility isn't being lived up to then we address it. Does that mean you're going to say you're fired? No. I think you're going to find a number of ways to fix it, especially if the umpire is talented."

Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he hasn't noticed increased problems between his team and umpires, calling the recent influx in ejections "cyclical."

"I think it's contingent on some circumstances," Scioscia said. "You have two teams competing, and if someone misses a call, someone's going to contest it. But I haven't noticed anything that would point to it being anything but random. There are going to be arguments, and sometimes guys are going to be ejected."

Last fall, the players' union asked for a meeting with umpires to discuss troublespots. A planned meeting was postponed in December, but representatives of the union for players and umpires met with management in spring training.

Abreu was ejected in the first inning after arguing a strikeout call by umpire Angel Campos. Scioscia said he thought Campos was a bit quick in tossing the Angels' No. 3 hitter.

Leyland was eventually run in the seventh after giving West an earful from the second inning on. He though West incorrectly called Howie Kendrick safe on a close play at first base in the bottom half of the second. Kendrick came around to score the game's lone run on Erick Aybar's double.

Verlander was being removed for a reliever with two outs in the eighth when he was ejected for exchanging words with the umps.

Leyland said it's just not just the umpires who are at fault, but players and managers also need to do their part in an effort to reverse course.

"I'm not criticizing anybody," Leyland said. "I'm making the point that we all need to work together to resolve this situation, because it's getting out of hand."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.