Major League Baseball suspended Josh Beckett today for six games — in essence, one start — for his role in a benches-clearing dustup with the Los Angeles Angels Sunday. The league also fined Beckett an undisclosed amount for what they deemed was an intentional throw at Bobby Abreu’s head and “aggressive actions” in the ensuing showdown between the teams, baseball’s vice president of discipline Bob Watson said.
Beckett will appeal, so any penalties will be delayed until after a hearing and he will likely be able to make his next start, scheduled for Saturday at home against Baltimore. The Red Sox are off Thursday, meaning they could skip Beckett and re-insert him without overly disrupting their rotation if he does not appeal.
“We were pretty shocked,” Beckett said. “I think the appeal kind of speaks for everything that we feel.”
Beckett said both aspects of the suspension — his intent and actions afterward — bothered him. “Absolutely. Obviously, I respect the job that they have to do. But I just don’t agree.”
Angels hitting coach Mickey Hatcher was suspended for one game and fined. Manager Mike Scioscia, center fielder Torii Hunter, and reliever Justin Speier were fined. Though those four were all ejected Sunday, Beckett was not.
“Did he throw it up and in? Yeah,” umpire crew chief Joe West said Sunday. “Do we believe he threw it at Abreu? No. Would we have warned him had both benches not emptied? Probably not, but because both benches emptied, we did issue a warning.”
After the game Sunday, Beckett maintained that the throw at Abreu was unintentional. Abreu had been granted timeout after Beckett’s long pause while holding Chone Figgins on second base. Beckett had already begun his delivery, and he did not want to stop for fear of injury.
“I think every pitcher does,” Beckett said. “I’ve seen guys that I play with, they throw balls to backstops. It’s just, it’s what we’re taught to do. We have to kind of protect ourselves in those situations, and stopping is not a good way to do that. You can end your career on one bad slip or something like that.”
So Beckett unleashed the ball. It sailed at Abreu’s head, but unintentionally, the pitcher said.
“Like I said the other day, that ball could have ended up anywhere,” Beckett said. “It’s unfortunate where it ended up. That’s the only reason I’m standing here dealing with all this stuff. We’ll see where it goes from here. We don’t agree. I respect the job everybody has to do. But we don’t agree.”
In the other clubhouse, Scioscia disagreed. He was upset not only with the pitch, but also Beckett’s reaction. After Abreu raised his arms and stared at Beckett, Beckett marched aggressively toward Abreu.
“That was about as flagrant as anything I have seen in this game, and it’s unfortunate,” Scioscia said. “Usually the pitcher will show a little bit of remorse. We didn’t see any of that from Beckett.
“There were some things that happened on the field that were disturbing and I feel the league has to look into it.”
Beckett responded today.
“I don’t really feel like I did anything. It’s unfortunate,” Beckett said. “I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do. Am I supposed to go give him a hug? I wasn’t really in a hugging mood right then. I don’t really know what they wanted me to do.
“They made their own judgment on it. I had two umpires tell me that I handled it great. One of them publicly said that. The other one told me twice, once when I was coming off the mound and once right afterwards.”