Ryan Dempster of the Boston Red Sox has been suspended for five games and fined by Major League Baseball for intentionally hitting Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez with a pitch Sunday night.
The penalty was announced Tuesday by Joe Garagiola Jr., a Major League Baseball senior vice president. He also fined Yankees Manager Joe Girardi for arguing with the plate umpire Brian O’Nora.
Dempster can play if he appeals the penalty. Boston has off days Thursday and Monday, allowing him to serve the suspension while getting pushed back only a couple of days in the Red Sox rotation.
Dempster threw one pitch behind Rodriguez’s knees and two more inside in the second inning. Then his 3-0 pitch struck Rodriguez’s left elbow pad and ricocheted off his back.
Girardi sprinted onto the field, screaming at O’Nora for warning both benches and not ejecting the pitcher. Girardi was tossed as the benches and bullpens emptied, and Rodriguez homered off Dempster to spark a sixth-inning rally that lifted New York to a 9-6 win.
Dempster maintained he was just pitching inside and was not trying to hit Rodriguez.
Earlier Tuesday, Girardi insisted that it would be “open season” on Rodriguez if M.L.B. failed to suspend Dempster.
“That baseball is a weapon. It’s not a tennis ball. It’s a weapon, and it can do a lot of damage to someone’s life,” Girardi said before a doubleheader against Toronto. “And that’s why I was so upset about it. You can express your opinion and be upset with someone, but you just can’t start throwing baseballs at people. I mean, it’s scary.”
Girardi said his profane rant at O’Nora probably was the angriest he has been on a ball field.
Rodriguez was suspended for 211 games on Aug. 5 for violating baseball’s drug and labor agreements but is playing while he appeals. Red Sox pitcher John Lackey criticized the rules last week for allowing Rodriguez to play.
Girardi said if Dempster was not punished it would make Rodriguez “open season for people, and that can’t happen.” He added: “It’s not fair. If a player is suspended for throwing at someone, they’re going to get their appeal. Are we just going to throw that out, too?”
New York did not retaliate Sunday. Girardi would not say whether there is a need to respond when the teams next meet, at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 5.
Girardi said “protecting your own” in baseball has gone on for “for a long time, and unfortunately you’re part of those situations sometimes, but that’s part of the game.”
The manager also discussed the matter with his 6-year-old son, Dante.
“Part of pitching is pitching inside, that’s all part of it,” he recalled saying. “But I don’t ever want you to hit anyone on purpose.”
After Sunday’s game, Rodriguez declined to say whether Dempster should be suspended.
“I’m the wrong guy to be asking about suspensions. Holy mackerel,” he said with a laugh. “I’ve got an attorney I can recommend.”
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS