Detroit Tigers closer Joe Nathan and his relationship with the home crowd has been rocky — to say the least — this season. But the frustration finally boiled over the for the 39-year-old Wednesday night.
Nathan, who is in the midst of a career-worst season in his first year with the Tigers, was booed upon taking the mound in the ninth inning with Detroit leading the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-4. It only got worse from there, though, as the boos grew louder when Nathan walked the first two batters he faced.
The closer eventually got Josh Harrison to ground into a double play to end the game, sealing the Tigers’ win, but Nathan decided to let the Comerica Park faithful know he felt the same way about them with a couple of gestures he made before lining up for handshakes.
The profane gesture went widely unnoticed by the media after the game, but by Thursday morning Nathan was already apologizing for his actions, telling reporters “frustration got the better of me.”
“I was frustrated and, obviously, the fans were frustrated,” he said, via the Detroit Free Press. “For myself, I apologize for that, but I have two kids and I need to be a better example for them.
Nathan added that he has no “hard feelings” toward Tigers fans, and that he’s never been involved in an incident like this one.
“It was bad on both parts, frustration came out on both sides,” Nathan continued. “I apologize to the fans and I apologize to my kids and I will be better.”
Nathan, who signed a two-year, $20 million contract with the Tigers this offseason, has a 5.11 ERA and six blown saves on the season.
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