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AROUND THE HORN: Cardinals' Tavarez tossed for dir

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AROUND THE HORN: Cardinals' Tavarez tossed for dirty cap

August 21, 2004

Free Press News Services

ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals reliever Julian Tavarez keeps running into trouble with his grimy, dirt-smudged cap. For the first time this season, it got him ejected.

Tavarez lasted one out in a 5-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the opener of a day-night doubleheader Friday. Umpire crew chief Joe West conducted a lengthy inspection of the cap before the eighth inning before tossing Tavarez, who made a flamboyant exit.

Tavarez put his arm around home-plate umpire Ron Kulpa and suggested they get a beer after the game. Then he flipped his cap to a fan in the stands behind the dugout on his way off the field.

"He asked me if it was pine tar, and it was like, 'No, it's just a dirty hat,' " Tavarez said. "Every pitch I throw, I touch my hat, just like a lot of guys.

"I asked him if I could wear another hat and he said, 'No, you're out of the game.' "

West said he was enforcing Rule 802.b, which prohibits foreign substances on uniforms and caps. He also said Tavarez and manager Tony La Russa "as much admitted" it was pine tar on his cap.

"I said, 'Well, Tony, you know he can't have pine tar on his hat, it can't be anywhere on him,' " West said. "By rule, I have to kick him out of the game.

"Do you like kicking a guy out of a game because he had pine tar on his hat? No. If he was using it to cheat, he should be kicked out."

The Cardinals are the sixth team in six years for Tavarez, who played for the Pirates last season. He was disappointed that manager Lloyd McClendon would use such a tactic, and deposited a handful of his clean caps on McClendon's desk after being ejected.

Tavarez also disapproved of the Pirates checking his cap in a game Pittsburgh had trailed, 4-1.

"If the game was tied, let's mess with his head," Tavarez said. "It's 4-1, you're 35 games out, you ain't going nowhere, what are you doing? I got a little sad, and I just took my hats over there."

McClendon confirmed he was the source of the inspection.

"It was brought to my attention on my bench," McClendon said.

"We didn't know what it was, and we still don't know."

N.Y. Mets: Infielder Joe McEwing is out for the season after suffering a broken bone in his left leg. McEwing was placed on the disabled list, a day after the injury at Colorado. Infielder Jeff Keppinger was called up from Triple-A Norfolk. "It absolutely stinks," said McEwing, who hit .254 with one homer and 16 RBIs.

www.freep.com

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