PITTSBURGH -- Two days after a benches-clearing incident broke out between the Pirates and Reds at Great American Ball Park, Major League Baseball suspended six players and both managers for their roles in Tuesday's fracas and the season-long feud between the two clubs.
Joe Torre, MLB’s chief baseball officer, issued the discipline on Thursday afternoon along with a statement rebuking the clubs’ behavior on Tuesday and in previous meetings.
“The incidents between these two clubs remain a source of concern, and it’s reflected by the level of discipline we are handing down today,” Torre said. “Everyone on the field should be aware of the example they are setting for fans, particularly young people. I firmly expect these two managers and all others to hold their players accountable for appropriate conduct and to guide them in the right direction.”
All six players decided to appeal their suspensions, but after those appeals are heard or dropped, the fallout could affect three teams. Pirates reliever Keone Kela (10 games), Reds pitcher Amir Garrett (eight games), Pirates infielder Jose Osuna (five games), Reds pitcher Jared Hughes (three games) and Pirates pitcher Kyle Crick (three games) were all suspended and fined. So, too, was now-Indians outfielder Yasiel Puig (three games).
Puig was traded to Cleveland shortly before the scrum took place Tuesday night. He reported to his new team and debuted for the Indians on Thursday night.
"You need to go out and defend your teammates," Puig said. "After that, everybody outside the baseball field, we are friends. Thank God there was no injuries for either side. We’ll see what’s going to happen in the next couple of days.”
The managers, however, were not eligible to appeal their suspensions. Reds manager David Bell, who entered the fray and charged directly at Hurdle after being ejected an inning earlier for arguing balls and strikes, began serving his six-game suspension on Thursday. According to MLB’s announcement, Bell was suspended “for returning to the field following his ejection; escalating the incident with his aggressive actions; his club’s intentional pitch at [Pirates center fielder Startling] Marte; and his numerous ejections this season.”
Bell admitted that he did regret not being able to lead his team into a four-game series with the Braves, starting Thursday.
“I want to be in the dugout,” Bell said. “We’ll be fine, but I have a responsibility to be in the dugout so [about] that part I’m remorseful. That’s my job. But I can’t live with handling it any other way.”
Hurdle’s two-game suspension will begin Friday night as the Pirates were off on Thursday. He was suspended due to his club’s “conduct during the incident” and their “multiple intentional pitches” thrown at Derek Dietrich this season, according to MLB.
On Wednesday, Hurdle said he has never asked a pitcher to throw at an opposing hitter. But reliever Kela, who received the longest suspension of anyone involved in the incident, admitted he threw a fastball over Dietrich’s head during the seventh inning of Tuesday’s game “to show my intent with my pitch and to pretty much let Dietrich know that I didn’t necessarily agree with the way things went down.”
The Reds and Cubs have publicly taken issue with Pittsburgh’s tendency to pitch up and in, and Dietrich has been the target of Pittsburgh’s frustration since he paused to admire a home run he hit off Chris Archer on April 7 at PNC Park. Archer threw behind Dietrich later in that game, sparking the clubs’ first benches-clearing fight of the season.
Kela said he wasn’t trying to hit Dietrich, but MLB suspended him for intentionally throwing a pitch near Dietrich’s head and for “instigating the bench-clearing incident.”
“If I wanted to hit Dietrich,” Kela said Tuesday night, “I believe I would have hit him.”
In the ninth inning, Hughes hit Marte in the backside and was ejected. At that point, the Pirates hoped, the drama was over. Garrett replaced Hughes and, according to several Pirates players, shouted an expletive at Pittsburgh first baseman Josh Bell as soon as he took the mound. The Pirates jawed back and forth with Garrett from the bench, and Garrett eventually left the mound to charge toward their dugout. Garrett started the fighting by throwing a punch at Williams.
"I don't condone what I did. It's not in the game for something like that to happen," Garrett said afterward. "Sometimes, you let emotions get the best of you. I don't condone that. I don't like for kids to see that in the baseball environment. Baseball is fun.
"The violence shouldn't be in there. At the end of the day, it's about protecting your teammates, protecting yourself. Emotions got the best of me."
The six suspended players and both managers were also hit with undisclosed fines. Pirates pitcher Trevor Williams, Reds first baseman Joey Votto and Reds outfielder Phillip Ervin were fined but not suspended. Other fines also were issued to players from both teams who participated in the incident while on the injured list.