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Watson: 'There will be some suspensions'

If you were hoping there weren’t going to be suspensions handed down for Saturday’s brawl between the Yankees and Red Sox at Fenway Park, MLB disciplinarian Bob Watson has a message for you: fat chance.

In a telephone interview, Watson told the New York Times “There will be some suspensions. You can best believe that."

And that was before he saw the video of the fracas, which started when Alex Rodriguez was plunked by a pitch from Bronson Arroyo. A-Rod had words for Arroyo, and when Jason Varitek stepped in front of the Yankees third baseman things got heated and a brawl erupted. A-Rod and Varitek were the primary participants, but New York starter Tanyon Sturtze and Red Sox players Gabe Kapler, David Ortiz (who is already appealing a five-game suspension for a separate incident) and Trot Nixon were involved in a melee on the side.

Watson told the Times he would be traveling and would not be able to make a ruling until Wednesday or Thursday, after he had talked with home plate umpire Bruce Froemming and Richie Garcia, the umpires' supervisor who was at Fenway Park.

But Watson stressed that his delay would not mean that he would spare the participants. "Please believe me," he said. "They will hear from me."

Garcia, the former umpire who now works for Major League Baseball as a supervisor of umpires, said Saturday's brawl was "handled expertly . . . as good as it could be handled" by the umpiring crew, the Boston Globe reported Monday. Garcia said he reviewed the video of the fracas "to make sure the right people were ejected." When asked if the right ones were, he said, "Yes, the umpires did a good job identifying the players most responsible."

Garcia said he sent his report to the league office and now "whatever they do is up to them." Garcia said it is protocol for players involved in fights to receive suspensions, but that it was up to Watson to dole out punishment. Asked whether other players around the fray could also be penalized further, Garcia said, "That's possible."

Red Sox manager Terry Francona had said, "If they look at the film, we'll fare better than they did.

"If you only see the first half of the fight, it puts Gabe [Kapler] in a different light." Francona was referring to Kapler getting caught in a 3-on-1 with Nixon and David Ortiz against Yankee pitcher Tanyon Sturtze, but Sturtze had been the aggressor when he got Kapler in a neck-hold.

Kapler was in disbelief that he was ejected, but Garcia said there was merit for the action.

Curt Schilling was the first to dart out of the dugout when the brawl began because "that's just the way you react. Your teammates are out there and you're just trying to protect them from broken hands and broken bones," he said.

The Sox ace righthander was critical of A-Rod's reaction.

"He's [Bronson Arroyo] not trying to hit him right there. That's ridiculous. You just don't do that. We're down, 3-0. A-Rod hadn't done much against us. He got a hit the night before, but it's not like he's killing us. Not that you'd hit him anyway. He overreacted to the situation. It was stupid. He's not trying to hit someone there. The pitch before was a fastball and he was trying to get in there [inside corner]. He's got to with the way he pitches. He got carried away. That happens. It happens more than you'd like to see in baseball."

Schilling said Rodriguez should have been able to get out of the way of the pitch if he wanted to.

A-Rod told some members of the New York media that he thought Varitek should have taken his mask off in an altercation. Told that, Varitek laughed and said, "No comment."

Information from the Boston Globe and New York Times was used in this report. 

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