The Yankees' Alex Rodriguez was hit by a pitch from Red Sox starter Ryan Dempster, which caused home plate umpire Brian O'Nora to issue warnings to both benches, which caused New York manager Joe Girardi to bolt out of the dugout, confront the umpire and be tossed from the game. The Boston Red Sox hosted the New York Yankees in a regular season MLB game at Fenway Park. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Major League Baseball let Boston Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster know they'll handle Alex Rodriguez's punishment on their own, with no need for vigilante acts, suspending Dempster five games for intentionally hitting the New York Yankees slugger Sunday night.
Dempster, who was also fined an undisclosed amount, was not ejected from the game Sunday after hitting Rodriguez in the second inning, but MLB's punishment showed that home-plate umpire Brian O'Nora made a mistake by not ejecting the Red Sox starter.
"Whether you like me or hate, that was wrong," Rodriguez told reporters Sunday night. "That was unprofessional and silly. It was kind of a silly way to get someone hurt on your team as well."
Dempster insisted he "was trying to pitch him inside," but it appeared that he was sending his own message against Rodriguez, who is appealing a 211-game suspension for the use of performance-enhancing drugs. It was the first time in Dempster's 16-year career, according to the Boston Herald, that Dempster hit a batter on a 3-and-0 count.
"You can't start throwing at people," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Sunday night, and reiterated Tuesday morning. "Lives, people have had concussions; lives are changed by getting hit by pitches.
"That baseball is a weapon. It's not a tennis ball. It's not an incredi-ball that's soft. It's a weapon, and it can do a lot of damage to someone's life, 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. It's scary. ...
"Whether I agree with everything that's going on, you do not throw at people and you don't take the law into your own hands. You don't do that.
"We're going to skip the judicial system? It's My Cousin Vinny."
Certainly, by suspending Dempster, Major League Baseball made it clear to the rest of the baseball that intentionally hitting Rodriguez is unacceptable, no matter their feelings towards the embattled slugger.
"I don't think that's up to him [Dempster] to determine, to throw at a guy because he's going through what he's going through,'' CC Sabathia said. "Maybe it was something different. But I don't think it's up to Dempster to police that."
Said Girardi on Tuesday: "It just makes him open season for people, and that can't happen. 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? I mean, this is what's been negotiated."
Former Houston Astros reliever Russ Springer admitted to USA TODAY Sports that he intentionally hit Barry Bonds while he was immersed in a steroids scandal while attempting to break Hank Aaron's record.
Springer said Tuesday that, "I don't lose sleep over it,'' but said that he regrets hitting him in 2006.
"I wasn't proud of it then,'' he said, "and I'm not proud of it now. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't do it. I wouldn't hit him.''
If Dempster immediately accepts his suspension, the Red Sox are expected to compensate for his absence because of upcoming off days in the schedule. Dempster was scheduled to pitch Saturday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, but the Red Sox have off days on Thursday and Monday. The Red Sox could pitch Jon Lester on Saturday and Jake Peavy on Sunday, who would both be on regular rest.