PITTSBURGH — The Los Angeles Dodgers reacted with bemusement and amusement Friday after Major League Baseball issued eight suspensions to Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks personnel for their roles in a violent brawl during the teams’ game Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.
Aside from a clear disdain for Arizona pitcher Ian Kennedy — whose 10-game suspension they viewed as insufficient after he struck rookie outfielder Yasiel Puig in the face with a fastball and nearly did the same to pitcher Zack Greinke — the Dodgers seemed to get a kick out of what they viewed as an arbitrary set of punishments.
How did Puig, who was seen throwing wild punches, escape with only a fine? Why was Dodgers utilityman Skip Schumaker, who was seen pulling players apart, suspended for two games? Why was Diamondbacks infielder Eric Hinske, who was described by the Dodgers as a “peacemaker” and “punching bag,” hit with a five-game ban?
Those questions and others were a source of laughter for the Dodgers before and after their 3-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night at PNC Park.
Five Dodgers were suspended, but the penalties were relatively light. Schumaker, reliever J.P. Howell and hitting coach Mark McGwire received two-game suspensions, and Manager Don Mattingly and reliever Ronald Belisario received one-game suspensions.
Mattingly and Belisario served their suspensions Friday night and McGwire started to serve his. Schumaker and Howell are appealing their penalties, though Howell conceded that he might not have a case, as he was caught on camera nearly flipping a Diamondbacks coach into a camera well.
Greinke and Puig were fined, as were the Dodgers for allowing players on the disabled list to leave their bench.
Diamondbacks Manager Kirk Gibson received a one-game suspension. Kennedy and Hinske are appealing their suspensions. Catcher Miguel Montero and outfielder Gerardo Parra were fined but not suspended.
Hinske was in disbelief, saying his only crime was getting in the way of Puig’s fist, which hit him in the back when he was doubled over.
“I didn’t throw any punches and I had punches thrown at me by Puig,” Hinske told reporters in San Diego. “He gets no games. I get five. You tell me what’s right there.”
Evidently, the league office thought Puig was provoked by Hinske, who appeared to push him at one point.
Puig’s teammates were sympathetic to Hinske, including one who recalled hearing Hinske scream, “I’m trying to break it up! Don’t hit me!” Puig did not offer his side of the story; he refused to speak to reporters.
There were no such feelings of compassion toward Kennedy, who will probably miss two starts if his suspension is upheld.
“That’s low,” Howell said. “It should be 10 starts. He’s an idiot.”
And a coward, according to the Dodgers, who were upset that he fled the scene as soon as the benches cleared.
“I don’t know what to talk about that guy,” Belisario said. “Whatever they did to him, I don’t really care. That’s not my business.”
Belisario blamed Montero, the catcher, for calling the pitch that struck Greinke high on his left shoulder in the seventh, one inning after Puig was hit. Greinke had hit Montero in the back in the top of the seventh, possible retribution for the pitch that hit Puig.
Belisario was surprised Montero wasn’t suspended.
“He’s the one that started that fight,” Belisario said. “He called it for sure.”
Belisario said he once considered Montero, a fellow Venezuelan, a friend.
“But right now, we’re enemies,” Belisario said.
McGwire said he believed the pitch that hit Greinke was ordered by the Diamondbacks’ bench.
“Who else is it going to come from?” McGwire said. “It comes from their manager and I let them know that.”
At one point, McGwire was grabbing Gibson and Arizona third base coach Matt Williams.
Asked if had any regrets about his behavior that night, McGwire responded, “Absolutely not. It’s one thing I will always do. I will always protect teammates. What Kennedy did was uncalled for.”
I’m about pitchers pitching inside and pitchers trying to intimidate players (by) pitching inside. The problem is, nobody today knows how to throw inside, so when somebody tries to throw inside, they don’t have good enough command. I’m all about below the belt. Anything from shoulder to head is uncalled for.”
Greinke wouldn’t say whether he thought Kennedy crossed a line by throwing near his head.
“I’d rather talk (directly) to people instead of through you guys,” Greinke said to reporters.
Meanwhile, Montero complained of how Clayton Kershaw wasn’t punished.
“You saw the video where Kershaw came at me throwing punches and nobody mentioned it,” Montero said in San Diego. “They’re golden boys, I guess.”
Whatever the reality, the blood feud between the two clubs doesn’t appear to be over.
“Everybody knows that it’s not over yet,” Belisario said.