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Tampa Bay Rays' Joel Peralta suspended eight games for pine tar incident

Rays relief pitcher Joel Peralta says Nationals players regretted the outcome of their manager Davey Johnson’s decision to ask umpires to inspect his glove for pine tar.

Associated Press

Rays relief pitcher Joel Peralta says Nationals players regretted the outcome of their manager Davey Johnson’s decision to ask umpires to inspect his glove for pine tar.

WASHINGTON — The Rays say the eight-game suspension for reliever Joel Peralta was more than he deserved but about what they expected.

Now they're deciding whether to try to do anything about it, as Peralta filed an appeal and thus remains eligible to pitch, which he did in Thursday night's game.

The disciplinary action, announced in the afternoon by Major League Baseball, was the result of the umpiring crew finding "a significant amount" of pine tar in Peralta's glove in Tuesday's game against the Nationals and was essentially in line with previous cases.

Peralta said he was fine with the decision, that "whatever they do is going to be fair, because that's what it's going to be. So I'm pleased. I'm okay."

Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman said it was not surprising and "not different necessarily than what we expected them to issue."

But manager Joe Maddon, outspoken throughout the incident, didn't take it as well.

"Of course it's too much, and of course it's unfair," Maddon said. "But that's what they came down with, and it's going to be up to them to try to manipulate it from there, possibly."

The filing of the appeal means the suspension is put on hold until a hearing is held, which could take a couple of weeks (but before the All-Star break) to arrange with officials from MLB, the players union, the Rays and Peralta, or until it is dropped.

Sometimes, even when there is little chance for a reduction in punishment, an appeal is filed, and then dropped, as a team will try to "arrange" for the best time for a suspension to be served. In this case, the Rays, in the midst of a stretch of playing 20 consecutive days up until the All-Star break would have to play shorthanded for more than a week.

Peralta said he was waiting to hear more from the Rays about how to proceed; Friedman said they're "still figuring that out."

MLB senior vice president Joe Garagiola Jr. was not made available to discuss the decision since an appeal was pending. There is precedent for his decision. In 2005, Angels reliever Brendan Donnelly was caught in a similar situation and given a 10-day suspension that was reduced to eight on appeal.

MLB, however, has since changed its sentencing guidelines from days to games, so Peralta's punishment could actually end up longer.

Peralta, who played for the Nationals in 2010, was still upset over the incident that started when Washington manager Davey Johnson, admittedly acting on inside information, asked the umpires to check Peralta's glove when he came in to pitch the eighth inning.

"I don't know why he did it," Peralta said. "I would like to know why, but I'm not going to ask that."

The 36-year-old right-hander did seem to be narrowing the field of candidates who supplied the information to Johnson, who took over as manager last season. He said he knew it didn't come from any of the players, as several told him "they were really sorry about what happened."

And he ruled out one of four members of the coaching staff who were with the team in 2010, current first-base coach and former Triple-A manager Trent Jewett, who he said was awesome and "kind of like my dad in Triple A." That leaves pitching coach Steve McCatty, bullpen coach Jim Lett and hitting coach Rick Eckstein.

Whenever Peralta does serve his suspension, the Rays are expected to send down a position player and add a reliever to keep the bullpen at full strength. That could mean a callup from Triple A, such as Dane De La Rosa or Josh Lueke, or waiting until the middle of next week for Brandon Gomes to be eligible for recall or Kyle Farnsworth to come off the disabled list.

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@tampabay.com.

Tampa Bay Rays' Joel Peralta suspended eight games for pine tar incident 06/21/12 [Last modified: Friday, June 22, 2012 8:01am]
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