Jesse Pantuosco

Baseball Daily Dose

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Dose: Urena Faces the Music

Friday, August 17, 2018


The great Elton John once said, “Saturday night’s alright for fighting.” Well in Major League Baseball, any day will do just fine.

 

Tensions can be high this time of year with teams making their postseason push and that was certainly the case for Yasiel Puig, who let off some steam Tuesday night before getting into it with Giants backstop Nick Hundley. To be fair, it was Hundley who initiated the conflict, barking at Puig for showing what he perceived as unnecessary frustration after fouling off a pitch. The Dodgers outfielder responded with some choice words of his own and a well-placed shove and before you knew it, it was Fight Night at Chavez Ravine (if you didn’t happen to catch Tuesday’s battle royale, pull up a chair and let Andrew McCutchen tell you about it).

 

Entertaining as it was, there tend to be consequences when you throw down with the other’s team catcher (if it had been Buster Posey behind the plate, he probably would have stood there and done nothing like he did when Bryce Harper charged Hunter Strickland last year). Puig took his medicine on Thursday as MLB announced a two-game suspension for the feisty right-fielder. Hundley escaped without a suspension but was fined for his role in getting Puig riled up. The 27-year-old should be available to play Friday against Seattle while he waits for his appeal to be heard.  

 

Puig wasn’t the only one who paid the price for Tuesday’s shenanigans. Giants rookie Dereck Rodriguez, who had been scheduled to start Friday’s series opener against the Reds, was placed on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring he suffered during Tuesday’s donnybrook (pointless sidebar: donnybrook is the GOAT synonym for fight). Though it’s only a minor strain and shouldn’t cost Rodriguez much more than the minimum 10 days, it’s still bad timing for a Giants team struggling to stay afloat in the NL West. The son of Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez has been tremendous this year, delivering a stellar 2.25 ERA across 14 outings including 12 starts for San Francisco. Getting hurt in a bench-clearing fracas doesn’t seem like something that would happen with any great frequency but the Giants have actually been down this road before. It happened to them last year when Jeff Samardzija concussed teammate Michael Morse in a dustup with Washington. With Rodriguez on the shelf, Casey Kelly will draw the start Friday in Cincinnati, which will be fun because he’ll be going against his father, Pat, who serves as the Reds’ bench coach.

 

A night after the Dodgers and Giants dueled like Ron Burgundy and Wes Mantooth, the Braves and Marlins exchanged blows in Atlanta. The fuse was lit by Jose Urena, who lodged a bean ball right at Ronald Acuna’s elbow. Urena played dumb with the media after the game, but everyone who saw the pitch knew his intention. The Marlins starter was clearly sending a message to Acuna, who had homered in five straight games prior to Wednesday.

 

Urena, feeling it was his duty to rattle Acuna’s cage, took matters into his own hands by injuring the Braves’ hottest hitter. Serves him right for being 20 years old and already one of the league’s best players. How dare Acuna, who has sizzled to a .354 average since the All-Star break, pimp his home runs like someone who enjoys the sport of baseball. The audacity!

 

Funny how Urena, who is 3-12 and had this happen to him on his first pitch of the season, felt it was his job to uphold baseball’s laughably arcane (edit: wildly misguided) “unwritten rules.” Keith Hernandez applauded Urena for going at Acuna with some chin music, but he was in the vast minority. ESPN’s Buster Olney, Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire and Alcides Escobar (Acuna’s cousin) were among many to speak out against the right-hander’s aggressive tactics.

 

Urena earned himself an ejection for his brushback pitch and on Thursday, the league hit the 26-year-old with a six-game suspension and fined him an undisclosed amount. Like Puig, Urena will appeal the ruling. Unlike Puig, the Dominican Republic native has zero chance of seeing his suspension reduced. In fact, considering the blatant disregard he showed for Acuna’s well-being, Urena got off pretty light.

 

A six-game suspension or thereabouts is pretty standard for this type of offense. Joe Kelly’s suspension was the same length (he reignited the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry by plunking Tyler Austin in April) while Luis Perdomo served a five-game ban for getting surly with Nolan Arenado earlier this year. But if MLB is serious about protecting its young talent, the punishment for purposely endangering a player’s safety needs to be more than just a slap on the wrist. If missing one start is the only repercussion, what’s stopping Urena from puffing out his chest the next time he feels like unleashing his preferred brand of vigilante justice (aka beaning players he’s too afraid to pitch to)? Assuming he stays on schedule, Urena’s next start will come Wednesday against the Yankees. That’s one day before the Marlins are set to begin a four-game set against Atlanta. Talk about dodging a bullet.

 

The good news for all of us is that Acuna’s injury didn’t cost him any time. He was back in the lineup Thursday against the Rockies and went 1-for-4 with a base hit. Among rookies, Acuna trails only San Diego’s Christian Villanueva in home runs. Villanueva is just one ahead of him despite seeing 73 more at-bats.

 

But seriously, what’s with all the beef this month? They’re even mixing it up at NFL training camp (remind me never to get on Jarvis Landry’s bad side). I guess August is alright for fighting. 

 

AL Quick Hits: Adrian Beltre missed another game on Thursday night while recovering from a nagging hamstring injury. As the injuries pile up, the 39-year-old is beginning to contemplate retirement. “It brings the question of is this going to keep happening more often?” asked the Rangers third baseman. “Is it worth it to fight back? Is it a sign that it’s getting closer to time to say good-bye to you guys?” Beltre’s contract expires after this season … The Rangers activated outfielder Nomar Mazara from the disabled list on Thursday following a month-long absence. The 23-year-old impressed in his return from a sprained thumb, clubbing a two-run homer in a win over the Angels … The Rangers pulled off a rare triple play in the fourth inning of Thursday night’s victory. It was only the sixth triple play in club history … Tommy Pham was back in the Rays’ lineup Thursday after missing two weeks with a slight fracture in his right foot. He reached base in three of four plate appearances as Tampa Bay edged the Yankees 3-1 … Nicholas Castellanos pummeled his 18th homer in Thursday’s loss to Minnesota. The hit was impressive but the real show-stopper was home plate umpire Manny Gonzalez, who made a spectacular grab on this bat flipLogan Forsythe ripped five hits Thursday as the Twins rolled to a 15-8 win over the Tigers. The 31-year-old has hit an absurd .449 (21-for-49) since arriving at last month’s trade deadline … The Orioles have placed Adam Jones on the bereavement list following a death in his family. The veteran outfielder didn’t travel with the team to Cleveland but should be back for the start of Tuesday’s series against the Mets.

 

NL Quick Hits: Led by a career-high seven RBI from Jose Bautista (who didn’t even start the game), the Mets erupted for 24 runs Thursday in the first game of a doubleheader against the Phillies. To preserve the bullpen, Philadelphia had two position players—Scott Kingery and Roman Quinn—pitch the final three innings … Brandon Nimmo exited Thursday’s game against the Phillies after injuring his left index finger on a third-inning groundout, though fortunately his X-rays came back negative. Prior to grounding out, the Mets outfielder had reached base in 10 straight plate appearances … Steven Matz returned for the nightcap of Thursday’s doubleheader in Philadelphia after missing two weeks with a flexor pronator strain. The Mets lefty looked rusty, allowing five hits and six runs (four earned) in just two innings of lackluster work … After months of making little progress in his recovery from elbow and triceps injuries, Yu Darvish will finally take the mound for a minor league rehab start on Sunday. The Cubs’ big offseason signing hasn’t thrown a major league inning since May 20 … Matt Carpenter left Wednesday’s game after taking a pitch off his right hand but was back in action Thursday against the Nationals. The 32-year-old salsa enthusiast extended his on-base streak to 34 games by drawing a third-inning walk, though the Cardinals would fall 5-4, ending the team’s eight-game winning streak … Harrison Bader slugged a solo home run in Thursday’s loss to Washington. Notably, it was his first long ball at Busch Stadium. The first 11 home runs of his career (eight this year, three last year) all came on the road … Carlos Martinez will begin a minor league rehab assignment Friday at Double-A Springfield. The right-hander, who landed on the DL with a shoulder injury last month, is expected to return as a reliever down the stretch … Joe Ross hurled 3 2/3 scoreless innings Thursday in a rehab start for High-A Potomac. It was the right-hander’s first game action since undergoing Tommy John surgery 13 months ago. Nationals manager Davey Martinez said there’s a “good chance” Ross will join the team in September … Stephen Strasburg is slated to throw another bullpen session on Saturday. If all goes well, the right-hander should return Tuesday against the Phillies. The Nationals ace has been battling a pinched nerve in his neck for the past month … Ian Happ accounted for the Cubs’ only offense with a solo home run Thursday in Chicago’s 1-0 victory over the Pirates. The round-tripper was especially meaningful for the 24-year-old because it came in his hometown of Pittsburgh.



Jesse Pantuosco is a football and baseball writer for Rotoworld. He has won three Fantasy Sports Writers Association Awards. Follow him on Twitter @JessePantuosco.
Email :Jesse Pantuosco



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