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Bat flip leads to benches clearing in Chicago

Royals and White Sox have differing views of Anderson's actions
@FlannyMLB
April 17, 2019

CHICAGO -- White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson was hit in the backside by Royals right-hander Brad Keller’s first pitch in the bottom of the sixth inning, leading to a benches- and bullpen-clearing fracas during the Royals’ 4-3, 10-inning win at Guaranteed Rate Field on Wednesday.

CHICAGO -- White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson was hit in the backside by Royals right-hander Brad Keller’s first pitch in the bottom of the sixth inning, leading to a benches- and bullpen-clearing fracas during the Royals’ 4-3, 10-inning win at Guaranteed Rate Field on Wednesday.

Anderson homered in the fourth off Keller, the 50th of his career, and threw his bat toward the Sox dugout in celebration at the plate after he made contact. Two innings later, in his next at bat, Keller plunked him.

Arguments ensued as Royals catcher Martin Maldonado got in between Anderson and Keller. Eventually, first baseman Jose Abreu and bench coach Joe McEwing also restrained Anderson.

Both Keller and Anderson were ejected.

The situation appeared to be under control until White Sox manager Rick Renteria and Royals manager Ned Yost exchanged words near the first-base line. Renteria had to be restrained before everyone was cleared off the field and he also was then ejected. Royals bench coach Dale Sveum was ejected as well.

“What happened was that [umpire] Joe West was trying to get everyone back to the dugouts,” Yost said. “So I turned around to get my team back and Rick started screaming and yelling at my guys. And I’m like, ‘Nobody is going to yell at my team.’ I got no issues [with Renteria] but nobody is going to yell at my team. … That’s not going to happen. You know, just give me a second and I’ll get them back.”

Said Renteria, “It was just a misunderstanding. They wanted me to know that's their team, they wanted me to know they can handle their guys. But their guys [were] still chirping. I just wanted to get them off the field. They already did everything they wanted to do."

Yost and Keller maintained afterward that the hit-by-pitch simply was a pitch that got away. But others clearly saw it as retaliation for the bat flip/throw.

Asked if he noticed the bat flip, Maldonado said, “I think my mom saw that from back home. Everybody saw that. I get it if he hits like a walk-off [and then bat flips]. Fine. But you know, it was way early in the game. I know everybody reacts differently, but still at the same time you've got to respect the game.”

Anderson, though, insists he was just having fun and trying to fire up his teammates.

“It was all confusing,” Anderson said. “I was the one who ended up [being ejected and] in the locker room. I was the one who got hit by a pitch. It’s part of the game. Bat flips have become part of the game. But we are going to keep moving forward and keep having fun and I’m going to continue to be me.”

At least some of the Royals felt Anderson should have simply taken his base and been quiet after the hit-by-pitch.

“When you do something like that [a bat flip],” Royals third baseman Hunter Dozier said, “you kinda know you're going to get hit. Once you get hit, just deal with it. Go to first. That's my take on it.

"Keller did the right thing. He aimed for the lower body. Hit him. It should just be like ‘OK, go to first and move on.’ It shouldn't have been as big of a situation as it was in my opinion, but I could be wrong. I don't know."

Added Sveum, “I’m an old-school guy and if you just take your base, everything will be fine.”

Anderson, though, seemed puzzled by the old school/new school debate going on with bat flips in baseball.

“They don’t bother me,” Anderson said. “I don’t have any rules. I play fun, I play to have fun and I play with a lot of energy.

“Our fans, they pay their hard-earned money to come to the ballpark to see a show, so why don’t I give them one?”

Anderson and the Royals had an on-field disagreement last April in Kansas City when Anderson celebrated a leadoff homer with a reported profanity as part of a phrase to fire his team up. Catcher Salvador Perez called out Anderson on the celebration, causing both benches to empty, but the situation ended without any further problem.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB.