CINCINNATI -- With his appeal denied by Major League Baseball, Reds right fielder Nick Castellanos will serve his two-game suspension, punishment for his involvement in a benches-clearing incident earlier this month, on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“Sucks. No way around it. I mean, that pretty much describes it the best, which it sucks,” Castellanos said.
MLB senior vice president of on-field operations Michael Hill issued discipline on Castellanos “for his aggressive actions and for instigating” when he stood over Cardinals pitcher Jake Woodford and flexed while yelling “let’s [expletive] go!” after scoring on a wild pitch on April 3.
During the appeal, Castellanos made his case that he was simply playing with emotion.
“Just that all of my energy was just focused on winning baseball games,” Castellanos said. “That was pretty much our case. I don’t really know how else to describe it, just that I wasn’t out [there] trying to provoke anybody to fight. It was just the emotions that can sometimes naturally come out when, I guess, you really want to win, you know? If I’m playing kickball or something with my friends and brother or something in my neighborhood, similar things would happen, you know?”
In the fourth inning during a 9-6 Cincinnati victory over the Cardinals, Castellanos was hit by a fastball in the ribs from Woodford and showed his displeasure while offering the ball to the pitcher before taking first base.
Later in the inning, Castellanos scored from third base on a Woodford wild pitch with a headfirst slide that had him collide into the pitcher as he covered the plate.
After Castellanos yelled, flexed and started walking away, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina shoved him from behind, which sparked the benches and bullpens clearing.
During Opening Day, Castellanos did a bat flip and skip following his home run against St. Louis -- although the Cardinals denied Woodford hitting Castellanos with a pitch was retaliation.
“Kirk Gibson was pretty fired up hitting that walk-off [in the World Series], you know?” Castellanos said. “It wasn’t that I’m trying to show anybody up, or it’s not a ‘Look at me, look how good I am’ moment, you know? That was just, ‘Yes, I clicked him. Now we’re down within four.’ Like, look to the dugout, say, ‘Let’s go,’ you know? And that’s it. It’s nothing against anybody other than like, ‘Come on, guys. Let’s go.’”
Castellanos said he was told by MLB that he broke rules put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“They kept on saying safety and health protocols, and super-spreader events. I don’t know, a lot of legal stuff,” Castellanos said. “I’m very happy that I’m not a lawyer, because that seems exhausting.”
In recent years, MLB has promoted the exuberance of its younger players and often highlights bat flips and emotional outbursts on the mound. Castellanos felt there was a contradiction demonstrated in his punishment.
“From my perspective, yes,” he said.
For his part in the incident, Molina was not suspended but received a fine. Eugenio Suárez and Jesse Winker from the Reds were fined as well as Jordan Hicks from St. Louis.
“I don’t really think my opinion matters in that, you know?” Castellanos said. “I happily accept my suspension. The only thing that I will pay attention to now is hopefully that the rules and consequences are made consistent throughout the league.”
Reds manager David Bell wasn’t part of the appeal process but had no choice but to accept the situation and move on.
“You hate to lose a player for a couple of games. It’s very significant,” Bell said. “As we all know, each and every one of these games [is] so important. So, it’s a big deal and very serious to lose a player and play short. Knowing that, we’ll do everything we can to compensate for that, overcome that. We hate that Nick will be out the next couple of days.”
Castellanos, 29, is batting .295/.328/.623 with five home runs and 10 RBIs in 15 games this season. His personal success and battle with St. Louis this month has had fans in Cincinnati rallying around him with support.
“I was at dinner two days ago, and the waiter who was serving me showed me the background of his phone, and it was that very incident that I got suspended for,” Castellanos said.