Daily Dish: June 26

Mikulik gets his money's worth in argument with umpire

See also: Weekend Dish
See also: Today's Baseball America Prospect Report

When a manager gets kicked out of a game for arguing with an umpire, they often stick around and keep on screaming to "get their money's worth." If that's the case, Joe Mikulik got a fortune's worth last night in Lexington.

The Asheville skipper had a diatribe that would make Lou Piniella and Earl Weaver blush as he threw bases, bats and a rosin bag in disputing a call on a pickoff play at second. Lexington's Koby Clemens hit an RBI double in the fifth to give the Legends a 1-0 lead in the fifth and Asheville starter Brandon Durden subsequently fired a pickoff throw to second. When Clemens was signaled safe, Mikulik went beserk.

"It was a close play, but it was just a reaction play by the umpire," Clemens told the Lexington Herald-Leader. "I don't know if I was safe or out. I couldn't tell. It was real close."

Mikulik clearly thought it was the latter, and let it be known. After screaming at the second base umpire--at long length--he was ejected. Mikulik continued screaming and then threw his hat at the pitchers mound before taking a head-first slide into second base. He then grabbed the bag and tossed it into right field. Mikulik retreated to the mound and hurled the rosin bag in the direction of where he had just thrown the base. He then went after the home plate umpire, who he gave a good old fashioned "shoe shining" before getting on his hands and knees to cover the home plate in dirt.

The manager returned to the dugout, but was not finished. He hurled four bats onto the field before returning to home plate with a water bottle to clean up the mess he had just made before spiking the bottle on the dish.

According to team officials, Mikulik's act was not finished on the field as he barricaded the door to the umpire's dressing room with a chair, two water coolers and batting-practice screen. Not surprisingly, he had a lot to say about the situation.

"I thought the strike was over," Mikulik told the paper. "When will the real umpires show up? That's what I want to know. Because that was an abortion. That was bad. The whole series was awful."

The tirade was caught on video, which helped Mikulik get plenty of airtime on ESPN's Sportscenter.


You Got Lucky, Babe

After spending a season and a half with the High-A Stockton Ports, outfielder Richie Robnett thought he was on a slow path to the Major Leagues. On Thursday, he jumped onto the fast track.

With Triple-A Sacramento in need of an extra outfielder, the A's decided to challenge Robnett and skip him past the Texas League. The 2004 first round pick had hit .266/.358/.434 in his second tour in the California League before the promotion.

"I didn't expect this," Robnett told the Sacramento Bee. "I thought my next callup would be to Double-A. Things happen, I guess. I don't even know what happened. I got lucky."

Robnett's tour of the Pacific Coast League is likely to be brief, and he's struggled against the more advanced hitters, going hitless in his first eight at-bats before doubling on Sunday.

Robnett had been pushing for a promotion since a big May in which the Fresno State product hit .282 with seven home runs. If anything, he should be happy to leave the confines of Stockton Ballpark, where he was hitting just .219 on the season.

While Robnett is a gifted power hitter, his problem continues to be making contact consistently. In the California League, the outfielder struck out 73 times in 267 at-bats. To improve upon that number, Robnett will have to adjust to a new approach he has seen in the Pacific Coast League.

"The pitchers weren't overpowering," Robnett told the newspaper. "They throw in different sequences. They throw more pitches for strikes."

Once Hiram Bocachica returns from injury, the A's are expected to send Robnett down, either back to Stockton or to Double-A Midland. But Robnett knows the only way he can stay on the fast track is to produce.

"I was nervous at first," Robnett said. "As the game went on, I got more comfortable out there. I just enjoyed it."


Settling In

It took Cory Patton a few days to get settled in at high Class A Dunedin. But, when he did, the results were spectacular.

Patton, a 24-year-old outfielder drafted out of Texas A&M in the sixth round in 2004, went 0-for-12 in his first three games in the Florida State League after getting promoted from low Class A Lansing last week. Then on Sunday, in his fourth FSL game, Patton exploded for four hits and a league record-tying 10 RBIs in Dunedin's 22-4 win against Fort Myers.

Patton eased into his big day with a two-run double in the first inning and a two-run single in the third. Then he got serious, swatting a three-run homer in the fifth and another three-run shot in the sixth. He actually had a good chance to break the league RBI record (set by Richard Banse of Cocoa in 1957 and again by Steve Verduzco of Kissimmee in 1995) in the seventh, when he came to the plate with runners on the corners and two outs, but he grounded into a fielder's choice to end the inning.

Patton got the call to Dunedin after hitting .290-10-44 in 241 at-bats at Lansing. He also showed some pop in the short-season New York-Penn League last year, hitting .273-14-44 in 220 at-bats.



• The Dodgers received good news over the weekend as third baseman Andy LaRoche will not require surgery on his throwing shoulder. LaRoche injured his shoulder when he made a diving stop on a play and threw from his knees in a game last weekend. The initial diagnosis was a slightly torn labrum, but the club put him on a throwing program after sitting him for 10 days. "He threw Saturday and he threw today and feels OK," Dodgers scouting director Logan White said on Sunday. "It's just now where he's throwing with no pain, though he hasn't really aired it out yet. So we'll see, but we're pleased with the way he's responded." LaRoche has been hitting off a tee and took some live batting practice over the weekend while the team was in Tucson. Since being called up from Double-A Jacksonville, LaRoche batted .333 with a pair of homers in just four games with Triple-A Las Vegas . . . It was a banner day for low Class A Fort Wayne's Will Venable. The Princeton alum hit a solo home run in the ninth (his second of the year) to tie the game at six and then launched a walk-off homer in the 13th to give the Wizards a 7-6 win against Cedar Rapids. On the day, he was 5-for-6 and is now hitting .328/.411./463 . . . The Mariners drafted righthander Anthony Varvaro in the 12th round of 2005 knowing he would be headed to the operating table. After a fantastic junior season alongside Craig Hansen at St. John's, Varvaro found out he needed Tommy John surgery right before the draft. With his stock sliding, the Mariners took a chance, hoping his stuff would return after surgery. Varvaro's first step back came on Sunday, as the righthander threw two scoreless innings in the Arizona Summer League. Varvaro did not allow a hit, walked one and struck out three in his first appearance back . . . The Rookie league Great Falls White Sox knew they had the bat in the right man's hands on Sunday, down 8-6 with two runners on base. First baseman Chris Carter was already 3-for-3, and in his five previous games, Carter had already hit two home runs. With the game on the line, the 2005 15th rounder hit the first walk-off home run of his professional career. "It's got to be a thrill for him," manager Bobby Tolan told the Great Falls Tribune. "He had a grin as big as the Mississippi River as he rounded third base." . . . Cubs fifth round draft pick, Jeff Samardzija, will make his first professional baseball debut Tuesday at Salem-Kaizer for the Boise Hawks.  Whether he starts the game is yet to be determined, but he will pitch at least two innings.

Contributing: Chris Kline, Kristin Pratt.