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Peralta suspended eight games for pine tar in glove

WASHINGTON -- Joel Peralta received his punishment Thursday afternoon when Major League Baseball gave the Rays reliever an eight-game suspension for "possessing a foreign substance on his glove."

Peralta had been scheduled to begin serving his suspension on Thursday, but he has elected to file an appeal. Thus the punishment will be held in abeyance until the process is complete, meaning he will be able to pitch.

"I got a call saying that the league said eight games," Peralta said. "We're appealing right now. So [I] just have to sit tight and see [what happens]. I'm allowed to pitch today, so that's all I care about right now."

Andrew Friedman, the Rays' executive vice president of baseball operations, said that the eight-game suspension was not surprising based on precedent.

The punishment is "not different, necessarily, than what we expected them to issue," Friedman said.

Though he is appealing, Peralta said the decision is fair.

"Yeah, definitely," he said. "Whatever they do, that's going to be fair, because that's what it's going to be."

When asked about what he hopes to accomplish with his appeal, he answered, "I don't know. It's the first time it happened to me, so I don't know what to think, what to expect. So, whatever they do, that's what's going to happen. I have no idea when [the appeal is] going to be heard."

Peralta was ejected from Tuesday night's game against the Nationals for having a "significant amount" of pine tar on the inside of his glove, an incident that kicked off a battle of words between skipper Joe Maddon and Nationals manager Davey Johnson.

Johnson asked crew chief Tim Tschida to inspect the glove after the right-hander replaced starter David Price prior to the start of the bottom of the eighth. Umpires removed Peralta's glove after finding the pine tar, then ejected him.

According to Official Rule 8.02(a)(2) of the MLB rulebook, "The pitcher shall not have expectorate on the ball, either hand or his glove." The penalty is automatic ejection and a 10-game suspension.

Maddon contended that Johnson didn't see the pine tar -- rather, someone within the Washington organization told him about Peralta's glove. Peralta appeared in 39 games for the Nationals in 2010.

That prompted Maddon, in his defense of his pitcher, to accuse Johnson of being "cowardly."

Johnson fired back.

"I didn't know him that well, but I thought he was a weird wuss anyway," Johnson said. "I understand where he's coming from. His job as a manager is to protect the players. ... But I do know the rulebook, and I do try to follow it. If one of my players is breaking [the rules and] got caught, turn the page, try not to get caught."

Maddon respects how the umpires controlled the situation but isn't fond of the Nationals' methods.

"[Peralta] is one of their former children here who had really performed well," Maddon said, "and all of a sudden, he's going to come back to this town and they're going to rat on him based on some insider information, insider trading, whatever, so if I'm a Major League player in the very near future to want to come play for the Nationals, I'd have to think twice about it. Those are my conclusions from [Tuesday]."

Peralta, 0-2 with a 3.72 ERA and two saves in 36 appearances in his second season with Tampa Bay, maintained on Tuesday night that the glove in question is one he uses for batting practice. Often applied while in the on-deck circle, pine tar helps hitters better grip a bat.

"Joel Peralta is one of the best teammates I've been around in my life," Maddon said. "And if you ask any Washington National player that played with him in the past, they'll validate that."

Peralta does not believe his former teammates turned him in.

"I don't think so," he said. "I had such good teammates over there. They approached me yesterday and said they're really sorry. We had fun when I was here. And you guys know me. I try to get along with everybody. I love those guys. Every teammate I had when I was over there, I love those guys, [they're] really nice guys."

Peralta noted that Jim Riggleman was the manager when he played for the Nationals and that he has not played for Johnson.

"I don't know [Johnson]," he said. "Never talked to him. I don't know why he did it. I would like to know why, but I'm not going to ask that."

Peralta did say how much he appreciates Maddon coming to his defense.

"After the game yesterday, I came to his office and thanked him again," he said. "Not only me. He defends every player here, and that's why these guys play so hard for him."

Tampa Bay Rays, Joel Peralta