MLB suspends Julio for four games

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Rationale for punishment: throw toward Twin's head

Orioles

September 11, 2004|By Jeff Zrebiec and Roch Kubatko | Jeff Zrebiec and Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Orioles closer Jorge Julio has been suspended for four games and fined for intentionally throwing at the head of Minnesota Twins infielder Augie Ojeda on Tuesday.

Julio, who was ejected in the top of the ninth inning after his 99 mph fastball sailed over the head of Ojeda - one pitch after giving up a two-run homer to Michael Cuddyer - appealed the ruling and is available in the Orioles' bullpen pending a decision.

"I never tried to hit that guy in the face, in the head, whatever," said Julio, who personally apologized to Ojeda a day later. "That's why I am appealing. This decision for me, it's not true. I threw inside ... and something happened. I wasn't mad at the home run. ... It's a lot of games and it's $1,000 fine. You can't feel good."

Bob Watson, the vice president of on-field operations for Major League Baseball, made the announcement after watching tape of the pitch and conferring with Ron Kulpa, the home plate umpire for Tuesday's game.

The league has not announced when the appeal will take place, but it will likely be done via telephone.

"Maybe an appeal will give Jorge his chance to talk about his side of it," said Jim Beattie, the Orioles' executive vice president of baseball operations. "When I talked to Bob [Watson], he said if you throw at someone, that's one thing, but when you throw at someone's head, it's a different issue. I guess the length [of the suspension] is because it's the head area."

Manager Lee Mazzilli felt the suspension was a little harsh, considering the circumstances.

"I think it is high," said Mazzilli, who did not reveal who would replace Julio when he is serving the suspension, though B.J. Ryan and Jason Grimsley would appear to be the likely choices. "They had that melee in Boston [vs. the Yankees] and those got four days. ... I felt he was frustrated and was trying to throw as hard as he could. It's not like Julio is Satchel Paige. He's a different type of pitcher, just a power pitcher that throws."

Orioles catcher Javy Lopez, who called for a fastball, also said that he doubted the pitch, which inspired a profanity-laced tirade by Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, was intentional.

"He's probably the only one who knows the intentions of it," Lopez said. "The team we have, I don't think we've done anything like this the whole year and we've had plenty of chances. If he did, that would really surprise me. One thing I know, if he hit him with that pitch, that would have killed him."

Weather delay in Fla.

The severe weather in Florida caused by the continuing hurricanes has led the Orioles to cancel their fall instructional workouts. The league was supposed to begin Sept. 19 in Sarasota.

"I didn't think about it until Ivan hit," Beattie said. "We might not have a complex."

The league is held for minor league prospects, especially at the lower levels, along with recent signees and players coming off injuries.

"To send them down there and put them in the eye of the thing, it just didn't seem to make sense at this point," Beattie said. "It's a valuable program and we're going to try to pick up something in the spring to help out, maybe an early minor league camp as well as expanding the number of guys we bring to the big league camp. But right now it just didn't seem to make sense.

"The weather patterns down there are a bit crazy. Who knows, it may cause someone else down there to say, `Maybe we shouldn't, either.'"

Run in honor of 9/11

Mazzilli will serve as honorary chair for today's St. Joseph Medical Center "Run to Remember," a one-mile walk/5K run beginning at 8:45 a.m. The event, organized by Charm City Run, will start in front of Police Headquarters at 601 E. Fayette St. at about the same time the first plane hit the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York three years ago.

The walk/run will benefit Baltimore's fire and police departments. The entry fee is $35.

Cash awards totaling $7,000 will be awarded to the winners. Interested participants can register beginning at 7 a.m. at Police Headquarters.

Around the horn

Asked whether Erik Bedard, who pitched his shortest outing of the season on Wednesday, will remain in the rotation, Mazzilli said that he is still evaluating it, though he may give somebody a start and push the rest of the starters back a day. ... Daniel Cabrera will start in the series finale tomorrow, with Bruce Chen opening on Monday at Toronto.

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