ARLINGTON, Texas — The Rays were unhappy with the severity of the discipline handed out for Thursday's brawl against Boston but remained unrepentant about their actions.
Major League Baseball acted swiftly and severely against the Rays, suspending five players for a total of 23 games, including James Shields (six), Jonny Gomes and Edwin Jackson (five each), Carl Crawford (four) and Akinori Iwamura (three).
Only three Red Sox were suspended for a total of 15 games — three for Sean Casey, five for pitcher Jon Lester and seven for Coco Crisp, who started the melee by charging the mound after being hit by Shields' pitch.
"I would like to have seen more of their guys involved in the suspensions; it just seems to be a little bit imbalanced in our favor," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Furthermore, the way the whole thing began, it was perpetrated on their side, so that part of it has the unfairness attached to it.
"The fact that their guy started it and we had more guys nailed than they did, that's the part that doesn't sit well with me, even in regard to the game (Thursday), where they only got one guy thrown out."
MLB staggered the suspensions so the Rays would be missing only one position player and one pitcher at a time, with Shields and Gomes scheduled to be out starting Friday.
But both appealed, meaning their suspensions are delayed until a resolution, and the other Rays said they might do the same, so it's not clear how severe the impact will be, though they seem likely to play much of the next two weeks short-handed.
And they aren't happy about it.
"We got crushed," Cliff Floyd said. "But what are you gonna do about it?"
Maddon wants them to use it to their advantage, in kind of an us-against-them way, and called a team meeting after the announcement to tell the Rays it was important to move forward.
"I just wanted to reiterate to our group that I felt actually proud of the way we handled the situation (Thursday)," Maddon said. "I don't think it could be disputed in any way how we handled ourselves during this entire event, and for that I'm very happy with our guys. Now it's up to us to take this negative situation and turn it into something positive, and that's our intent."
The biggest issue the Rays seemed to have with the rulings was that their players were punished almost as heavily as Crisp.
"Those are incongruent," Maddon said. "When the perpetrator's time is way too close to us, and we reacted to it, I don't agree with that."
"Absolutely, I thought he was going to get a little more than that," Shields said.
Crisp told reporters in Boston he didn't know the specifics of his suspension (though he knew enough that he was appealing) and wasn't interested in what the Rays got. "It doesn't matter to me," he said. "I don't really care.''
Shields and Gomes, who came off the bench and was seen punching Crisp, expected to be suspended, and Crawford, who was an active participant, had an idea. MLB officials must have seen enough on the game tapes to take action against Jackson and Iwamura, as well as Casey. All were also fined.
"You leave the dugout and try and inflict injury by a punch, you're going to get (disciplined)," said Gomes, who was suspended for the spring Yankees brawl, too. "And I think more of our guys did that than their guys."
The only satisfaction for the Rays might have been that Lester was suspended for "intentionally throwing" at one of their hitters even though the umpiring crew, which had already issued a warning, didn't take any action.
"We got hit a little harder," Shields said. "There were a couple of their guys that threw some blows that didn't get anything. But we're going to take our licks and go from there."