ST. PETERSBURG — There were consequences for the Blue Jays hitting Rays centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier in the back with a pitch Wednesday at Tropicana Field.
Reliever Ryan Borucki was suspended for three games and fined an undisclosed amount for what Major League Baseball said was “intentionally hitting” Kiermaier, and manager Charlie Montoyo was fined and suspended for one game.
Montoyo sat out Thursday’s game in Minnesota; Borucki appealed and will remain eligible until a hearing or he drops the challenge.
Rays manager Kevin Cash was quite upset after the eighth-inning incident, which appeared obvious retaliation for Kiermaier picking up a Jays pitching data card after a play at the plate Monday and taking it to the Tampa Bay dugout. Cash yelled at the umpires that Borucki should be ejected, which he was, along with pitching coach Pete Walker, who protested that decision vehemently.
Montoyo insisted Wednesday and again on Thursday that Borucki’s pitch was not intentional. “You can see from my pitching coach’s reaction we didn’t want to do that, but I know what it looks like,” Montoyo said. “So it is what it is. I got suspended, and we’ve got to move on.”
Kiermaier was still upset after the game, calling the Jays actions “a weak move.” " He said he hoped the Rays would get to face the Jays in the playoffs, because he would be quite motivated to do so. Montoyo, a former Rays coach and minor-league manager, downplayed the rhetoric.
“You know what it is? When you play so many games, there is always something that happens,” Montoyo. “So many games year after year, that’s just part of baseball, that’s part of your division. That’s fine. People can say whatever they want to say. We’re not going to get into that.”
Franco expected to rejoin Rays this weekend
Rookie shortstop Wander Franco looked good during a seven-inning rehab game for Triple-A Durham. Assuming all feels fine with his previously strained right hamstring, he is expected to rejoin the Rays Friday or Saturday.
Franco walked twice and grounded out but showed his form advancing to third on a wild pitch before scoring on a sacrifice fly and then with a quick burst to make a play at shortstop.
He was injured in the first inning Sept. 10 at Detroit. Starting with that game, the Rays have gone 6-7 with a noticeable drop in offense as part of a 10-11 month.
“We haven’t played our best,” Cash said before Wednesday’s game. “(That record) is not that representative of what we’ve done over the course of five or six months now. We’d like to start trending in a better direction. We’d like to get some guys healthier.
“Obviously, Wander’s a big part of that. Look at what we’ve done with — he was doing a lot of things for us on both sides of the ball.”
David Roberston will make his first big-league start and second of his 15-year pro career as the opener for Friday’s game against the Marlins. Lefty Ryan Yarbrough is expected to work the bulk of the innings. … Randy Arozarena’s 89 runs are tied with Rocco Baldelli (2003) for most by a Rays rookie, and his 52 extra-base hits are second to Evan Longoria’s 60 (2008). ... The Rays haven’t played the Marlins since the April 1-3 opening series of the season.
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