ARLINGTON -- An emotional and empathetic Jake Marisnick said he planned to appeal a two-game suspension handed down by Major League Baseball on Thursday after he collided with Angels catcher Jonathan Lucroy at home plate on Sunday in Houston. The Astros outfielder was also fined an undisclosed amount.
Marisnick reiterated Thursday that he did not intentionally initiate contact with Lucroy in a violent collision that resulted in a concussion and a fractured nose for the Angels catcher. Marisnick said he wants to talk to MLB further about the play, which he will get a chance to do whenever his appeal is heard. Until then, Marisnick is available to play.
“Obviously, I still feel terrible about it,” Marisnick said prior to Thursday’s game against the Rangers. “It was a rough couple of days just going through the … just kind of everything that happened. Had a chance to sit back and digest it. Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of takes on it, and obviously everybody has their own opinion. But I know deep down in my heart that I had no intent to hurt, or make contact with him.”
The play in question came in the eighth inning of the Astros’ 11-10 win at Minute Maid Park. The score was tied at 10, and the Astros had the bases loaded with one out when George Springer lofted a fly ball to Kole Calhoun in right field. Calhoun fired a throw home that brought Lucroy in front of both home plate and Marisnick, who was taking an inside lane to the plate. Marisnick and Lucroy made hard contact as the ball rolled away.
Marisnick was ruled out for violating Rule 6.01, which states that a baserunner may not deviate from his direct path to home plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher. The Astros challenged the play, but the umpires’ ruling was upheld, and the Angels recorded an inning-ending double play.
“After thoroughly reviewing the play from all angles, I have concluded that Jake’s actions warrant discipline,” Joe Torre, MLB’s Chief Baseball Officer, said as part of an official statement released by the Commissioner’s Office on Thursday. “While I do not believe that Jake intended to injure Jonathan, the contact he initiated in his attempt to score violated Official Baseball Rule 6.01(i), which is designed to protect catchers from precisely this type of collision.”
Marisnick said Thursday that he was lunging toward the inside of the baseline to create a clear path to the plate, but the throw took Lucroy more inside than Marisnick anticipated.
“I’ve watched the play, and I’ve seen it from different angles,” Marisnick said. “And from some angles, it looks bad. I would urge people to watch, there’s an angle from our dugout, I believe, and if you watch it, you can see the moves that I’m talking about.”
Springer, who’s one of Marisnick’s closest friends on the team, came to his defense.
“Honestly, first and foremost, again, the health of Jonathan Lucroy is obviously the most important thing,” he said. “You don’t ever want to see any player get hurt. This is a brotherhood, so you always want the best for everybody. I know Jake very well, great teammate, great player, [and] he would never do anything intentionally to hurt anybody.”
Astros manager AJ Hinch, a former catcher, said he spent some time on the phone with Torre over the All-Star break and knew a suspension was possible. He remains steadfast in his belief that the collision was unintentional, while extending sympathy to Lucroy. Still, he doesn’t believe a suspension was warranted.
“MLB wants to maintain their control over the collision at the plate, and for all the right reasons,” Hinch said. “We don’t want injuries that happened on Sunday to happen, however unintentional. I haven’t seen, in my career, too many unintentional acts warrant a discipline. This was a tough one because of the extent of the injury to Jonathan Lucroy and the nature of the rule around home plate.”