WASHINGTON — Shawn Kelley’s outburst on the mound got him booted from the Washington Nationals.
The Nationals designated Kelley for assignment on Wednesday, a day after he threw his glove to the ground and glared into the dugout while working the ninth inning of a 25-4 blowout of the New York Mets.
Kelley entered the game with Washington leading 25-1. He appeared agitated and was working quickly, and he had already allowed a run when the plate umpire warned him to slow down. After the warning, he gave up a two-run homer to Austin Jackson, prompting the outburst.
“I thought (the way) he acted, portrayed on the field last night, was disrespectful to the name on the front of the jersey, the organization, specifically (manager) Davey Martinez,” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said. “You’re either in or you’re in the way. I thought he was in the way. That’s something you don’t come back from. It was a disrespectful act. … I thought it warranted him leaving the team. I couldn’t see how he would face the rest of the teammates and the coaching staff and the manager after such a selfish act in a 25-1 game.”
Kelley apologized for his actions afterward, saying he just wanted the game to end.
“I was just trying to get through the inning and get the game over with,” Kelley said. “I thought everybody had seen enough baseball for one evening.”
The 34-year-old Kelley signed as a free agent with Washington in December 2015 and appeared in 135 games with the team. He had a 3.34 ERA in 35 appearances this season. He has pitched in 424 games, all in relief, over 10 seasons with four teams, and has a 3.73 career ERA.
Martinez said the decision to cut ties with Kelley was painful but necessary.
“Knowing what we did yesterday, scoring all those runs, everybody’s feeling good. He comes into the game, slams his glove, frustrated with everyone. That, to me, bothered me a lot,” the manager said. “Here’s a guy that I have respect for, and I have to tell him, ‘We’re going to DFA you,’ and I wish him all the best. Here’s a guy that I got to know personally. He’s not a bad person.”
The Nationals have seven days to trade or release Kelley. If he is released, the Nationals would be responsible for the $1.8 million remaining of his $5.5 million salary. If traded, he would be eligible for $50,000 bonuses for making 40 and 50 relief appearances, and could earn $100,000 for 60.
Kelley was the second veteran reliever in two days to exit Washington, which has underachieved all season and is trying to climb back into the NL East race. The team traded right-hander Brandon Kintzler to the Chicago Cubs for a minor leaguer on Tuesday.
The Nationals recalled right-hander Jimmy Cordero from Triple-A Syracuse to take Kelley’s place on the roster. Martinez said he felt that the bullpen was in good shape for the stretch run with the additions of the hard-throwing Cordero and Wander Suero, who has the ability to work multiple innings. Closer Sean Doolittle is expected back soon from a stress reaction in his left foot.