Piniella, Francona 6 others punished

Managers get 3-game bans, four players suspended for Devil Rays-Red Sox scuffle

April 30, 2005|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

As Lou Piniella sat in the visiting manager's office at Camden Yards early last evening, surrounded by 20 reporters, he wanted nothing more than to put a nasty beanball war behind him.

But it's not going away just yet. The manager of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays began serving the first three-game suspension of his 37-year major league career in the aftermath of a pair of bench-clearing incidents with the Boston Red Sox on Sunday.

Devil Rays bench coach John McLaren will manage the club through this weekend's three-game series against the Orioles.

"I've never been suspended for three games, ever," Piniella said. "And I've been doing this a long time."

Piniella was joined in his banishment by Red Sox manager Terry Francona. Six players from the two teams also were disciplined, four of them suspended and all of them fined.

Suspended five games from the Devil Rays were pitchers Lance Carter and Dewon Brazelton, both of whom will appeal their penalties. Outfielder Chris Singleton was fined.

Boston pitcher Bronson Arroyo drew the biggest suspension - six games - plus a fine. Outfielder Trot Nixon was suspended two games with a fine, and designated hitter David Ortiz was fined.

Although the fines were undisclosed, Brazelton, who is scheduled to pitch tomorrow, said his was for $3,000.

"We all knew something would happen," he said. "The $3,000 didn't surprise me, but I didn't expect five games."

Piniella wasn't expecting it, either. "I was expecting a fine. I was expecting possibly a one-game suspension," he said. "I think the league is probably trying to head off further problems, not only with our teams."

Although bad blood between the teams dates to 2000, when former Devil Ray Gerald Williams charged then-Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez after getting hit, none of the combatants from that period remains.

Still, in a three-game series last weekend in St. Petersburg, Fla., a total of seven batters were hit. In Sunday's finale, an 11-3 Boston romp, six players were ejected.

Tempers flared after Carter nearly hit Manny Ramirez in the seventh inning. After Ramirez homered, Carter then knocked down Ortiz with a pitch at his head. Ortiz had to be restrained and the benches emptied.

"I know what I was doing and I know there was no intention there," Carter said. "There was no intention to throw at David."

It went from bad to worse when Arroyo hit Singleton in the leg leading off the bottom of the inning. Again benches emptied.

On Tuesday, the situation deteriorated even more when Red Sox ace Curt Schilling said Piniella instigated the incidents by "trying to make his team be a bunch of tough guys." Schilling also said during one of the scuffles, one of the Devil Rays said, "This is why we lose a hundred games a year, because this idiot makes us do stuff like this."

Piniella responded with a lengthy statement in which he said he'd "forgotten more baseball" than Schilling knows.

"On the idiot subject, I'm appalled he would actually say something like that," Piniella said in the statement. "I had a meeting with my team and to a man they denied it. He's questioning my character and integrity and that is wrong. ... "

Piniella declined to address the issue yesterday. But he said he doesn't expect more trouble.

"I don't want to see teams fighting," he said. "I think the next time we play Boston, we play baseball and that's it."

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