Archer drops appeal of suspension

Polanco and Neverauskas begin rehab stints with Triple-A Indianapolis

April 14th, 2019

WASHINGTON -- On Sunday, Pirates starter Chris Archer began serving the five-game suspension handed down by Major League Baseball for throwing a pitch behind the Reds’ Derek Dietrich on April 7.

Archer initially chose to appeal the suspension, which was announced on Tuesday. He started in the Pirates’ 3-2 loss to the Nationals on Saturday, spoke to his agent and the league office then decided to drop his appeal and accept the suspension after learning that his punishment likely wouldn’t be lessened. He is scheduled to make his next start on April 21 at PNC Park, so the end result of his suspension ultimately will be an extra day of rest and an undisclosed fine.

“I think it’s just what’s best for the team,” Archer said. “I’m only getting pushed back one day from what I normally would. Not that I agree with it, but it’s the best thing to do for the team.”

The Pirates have a pair of off-days this coming week, as they are off before and after a two-game series in Detroit that begins on Tuesday. Pittsburgh shuffled its rotation so that Archer won’t miss a turn and the club won’t need a spot starter in his place.

Right-hander Joe Musgrove will start on Tuesday against the Tigers, followed by Trevor Williams on Wednesday. The Bucs pushed back Jordan Lyles, who will now start on Friday against the Giants at PNC Park. Jameson Taillon is scheduled to start on Saturday, with Archer returning for the series finale against San Francisco.

Archer’s pitch behind Dietrich, who admired a home run he hit earlier in the game, incited an on-field fracas with the Reds. Cincinnati manager David Bell and outfielder Yasiel Puig were also suspended and fined for their roles in the incident.

“Basically, since I instigated the benches to clear, that was the reason,” Archer said. “If the benches wouldn’t have cleared, it might be a different verdict. That’s just what it is.”

Archer said he did not intend to hit Dietrich, although MLB’s announcement of the suspension charged Archer with “intentionally throwing” at the Reds infielder. Archer was not thrown out of the game, and he wondered if the brawl or suspensions would have taken place if his pitch had not sailed behind Dietrich.

“I think, just to go deeper, if their manager and Puig don’t come charging out of the dugout, it doesn’t happen, either,” Archer said. “But it is what it is. Those guys served their suspension. I’m going to serve mine. I’ll be ready to go next Sunday.”

Archer, who held the Nationals to one run and struck out nine in seven innings on Saturday, owns a 2.00 ERA with 24 strikeouts and seven walks in three starts this season. He will travel with the team and continue to be paid during his suspension. He can’t be in the clubhouse or dugout during the games, but he can take part in pregame workouts and throw his regularly scheduled bullpen session this week.

Around the horn

• Lyles and reliever Kyle Crick pitched in a simulated game on Sunday morning at Nationals Park. Crick is eligible to come off the injured list following a bout with right triceps tightness and could do so later this week, if all goes well.

• Right fielder Gregory Polanco and reliever Dovydas Neverauskas began their rehab assignments with Triple-A Indianapolis on Saturday. Neverauskas struck out two in a scoreless inning. Polanco went 2-for-5 with a pair of RBIs and two stolen bases. Catcher Elias Diaz, also rehabbing with Indianapolis, started behind the plate and recorded two hits.

• Tuesday will be the Pirates’ first Interleague game of the season. They went 15-5 against the American League last season. They will match up with longtime infielder Josh Harrison but won’t see former Pittsburgh shortstop Jordy Mercer, who is on the injured list with a right quad strain.