MLB ruling on suspensions surprises Rays
By Joe Smith
Times Staff Writer
PITTSBURGH — The Rays were clearly disappointed with Major League Baseball’s decision Friday to uphold Akinori Iwamura’s three-game suspension, and they had an equally hard time grasping why Red Sox CF Coco Crisp’s seven-game ban was trimmed to five.
Both Iwamura and Crisp, who will begin serving their suspensions today, had appealed their discipline from the June 5 brawl in Boston. But now Crisp, who started the benches-clearing melee by charging the mound after James Shields hit him with a pitch, will end up sitting fewer games than Shields (six games but only one start) and the same as Jonny Gomes.
“I’m kind of baffled by it,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said of Iwamura’s failed appeal. “I don’t agree with it at all. I thought it should have been reduced. I thought it was way too severe because of the fact that we were reacting to a situation.
“And then furthermore, the guy that pretty much created the entire moment gets his reduced by two (games). Honestly, none of that makes any sense to me whatsoever.”
Iwamura said through an interpreter he was “very disappointed” by the decision and “hurt” that he won’t be able to start Monday, when the teams begin a three-game set at the Trop. (Crisp won’t face the Rays at all.)
Willy Aybar likely will start in Iwamura’s place for the next three games.
Eight players (five Rays, three Red Sox) had been suspended a total of 38 games from the brawl. The Rays said they were more surprised that Crisp, whose hard slide on Iwamura the game before the brawl sparked Shields’ beanball, will sit just as many games as Gomes, who was coming to the defense of a teammate.
MLB declined to comment on the decision. Maddon said he wouldn’t be opposed to asking the “appropriate people” for an explanation — executive vice president Andrew Friedman said Friday he had yet to receive one — but believes the team is ready to move on.
“We’re not going to cry about it. We’re not going to raise a stink over the fact that the Red Sox were reduced and we were not,” Maddon said. “All I’m going to say is I don’t agree with the decision. I thought it was wrong, but we’re going to live by it.”
PENA BACK: 1B Carlos Pena, activated Friday from the disabled list (broken left index finger), was inserted into the lineup albeit in a different spot in the order. Pena started at first base but hit sixth instead of his typical cleanup spot.
Maddon said he wanted to ease Pena back into things, considering his main hitting activities included an 0-for-4 DH stint for Vero Beach on Thursday.
To make room for Pena, INF Ben Zobrist was optioned to Triple-A Durham.
“He’s not really been able to do anything hittingwise for almost three weeks,” Maddon said of Pena. “(To) all of a sudden play one game and feel he’s back on task, I just didn’t feel good about it.”
Pena wore padding in his batting glove and went 0-for-3 with an RBI, saying he was “completely fine” with the temporary drop in the order.
PROUD PAPA: SS Jason Bartlett rejoined the team after two days away for the birth of his son, Jayden Anthony, on Wednesday (“Best feeling ever,” he said). Bartlett admitted he was a bit tired but was beaming as he handed out cigars.
Bartlett joked the delivery might have been more taxing on him than wife Kelly.
“I was sweating; thought I was going to faint,” Bartlett said. “As soon as I saw his head, I was fine.”
MISCELLANY: Rocco Baldelli went 0-for-6 with four strikeouts as DH for Vero Beach, continuing his rehab assignment.