MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Clint Nageotte walked off the mound, his eyes wide with disbelief.

The Seattle Mariners’ young right-hander, recalled from the minors just hours earlier, entered the game in relief to start the seventh inning on Sunday against Minnesota. Nageotte’s first pitch sailed well over the head of Lew Ford.

Ford hit a three-run homer in his previous at-bat, so umpire Larry Poncino was suspicious. He ran out from behind the plate and ejected the stunned Nageotte – prompting a futile argument from Mariners manager Mike Hargrove.

“The umpire absolutely, totally overreacted,” Hargrove said. “He’s not throwing at anybody, least of all Lew Ford. If we throw at somebody, we’d throw at Joe Mauer.”

Nageotte claimed that he slipped on the rubber, causing him to lose control of the ball.

“I was not trying to hit him,” he said. “That was the last thing going through my head.”

Poncino, however, didn’t see it that way.

“The kid can say what he wants,” he said. “There’s no doubt in my mind he was throwing at him.”

The Twins weren’t offended.

“I’m sure he’s just trying to throw a strike in that situation,” Ford said.

Though Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire was glad that a warning wasn’t issued to both teams instead, thus hindering his team’s opportunities to throw inside, he was sympathetic.

“I really feel bad for the kid,” Gardenhire said.

Nageotte was brought up to replace Gil Meche, who was put on the disabled list with patellar tendinitis in his right knee. Nageotte, who pitched 36 2-3 innings last year for Seattle, was making just his second appearance of the season.

“It’s about as frustrating as you can get,” he said. “It’s over with. Hopefully next time I go out there, it’s a lot longer than one pitch.”

AP-ES-08-21-05 1844EDT

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