A’s outfielder Ramón Laureano was suspended on Tuesday by Major League Baseball for six games for his actions in the bottom of the seventh inning of Sunday’s 7-2 win A’s win over the Astros. Laureano has appealed and will be available to play in Tuesday night’s game against the Angels as the discipline will be held in abeyance.
Astros hitting coach Alex Cintron received a 20-game suspension and was also fined for his role in the incident.
MLB senior vice president of baseball operations Chris Young cited Cintron’s role in “inciting and escalating the conflict” for his discipline. His suspension begins immediately.
In a statement, Cintron said, "I accept MLB’s suspension and will learn from this. Although I never referenced Ramon’s mother, my actions were inappropriate. I apologize for my part in Sunday’s unfortunate incident. As coaches, we are held to a higher standard and should be an example to the players. Hopefully, other coaches will learn from my mistake so that this never happens again in the future."
Laureano was hit in the middle of the back with a 3-2 breaking pitch in the bottom of the seventh inning by Astros rookie pitcher Humberto Castellanos. Laureano, who was traded from the Astros in 2017, gestured toward Castellanos and exchanged words with him while walking down to first base. When Laureano was standing on first, he argued with Cintron, whom Laureano said yelled multiple offensive remarks about his mother, and then charged Houston’s dugout.
"It's something we have to deal with," A's manager Bob Melvin said before Tuesday's game. "Whatever I think about the decision doesn't really matter. The best thing to do is try to get it behind us as quickly as we can."
Before Monday’s game against the Angels, Laureano expressed regret for his role in the altercation and was expecting a suspension to be issued for his role in the scuffle.
“I don’t take what [Cintron said] very lightly, and I don’t think anybody would,” Laureano said. “It’s just a tough situation. I reacted that way unfortunately during very hard times when it comes to social distancing during the pandemic. I look like a not very smart guy. When you’re very emotional, especially about your mother, it’s just tough.”
Laureano has been one of Oakland’s top hitters through the first 17 games of the season, slashing .263/.405/.491 with three home runs, 10 RBIs and 11 runs scored. During the suspension, his spot in center field is likely to be filled by Mark Canha, who played the position well for the A's last year during Laureano's stint on the injured list.
With Laureano firmly entrenched as the club's No. 2 hitter in the lineup, Melvin mentioned Tony Kemp and Robbie Grossman as possible candidates to fill that spot. That decision will be further discussed once Laureano actually begins serving his suspension, which Melvin said could come as early as Wednesday.
Matt Chapman was featured in the No. 2 spot of the lineup often in 2019, though don't expect him to slot there in Laureano's absence. Riding a hot streak that has seen him go 9-for-19 with four home runs, two doubles, a triple and 10 RBIs over his last four games, Melvin doesn't plan on moving the third baseman out of the cleanup spot anytime soon.
"I think he's good where he is right now," Melvin said of Chapman. "He's settled into that spot. He's swinging the bat as well as he has all year, so that's one guy that will probably stay where he is. I haven't even thought about it."