The Boston Red Sox as a group probably don't like that left-hander David Price gets off scot-free in the wake of the bench-clearing tussle with the Tampa Bay Rays last week, especially in light of their own player, right-hander Brandon Workman, receiving a six-game suspension from Major League Baseball on Tuesday. Workman appears to be the only player from either team who was disciplined from a game that included his ejection and that of three Red Sox coaches, including manager John Farrell.
Price hit two batters — Ortiz and Mike Carp — and was warned by the home-plate umpire after plunking Ortiz on the hip in the same game Workman threw a pitch near, but that missed the head of Rays slugger Evan Longoria. Unlike Workman and the coaches, Price wasn't ejected from the game — no one on the Rays was — which the Red Sox won 3-2 in 10 innings.
That's part of the trouble with MLB disciplining Price: If umpire Dan Bellino didn't believe Price intended to hit Carp, it's much tougher for the league to punish Price for doing so after the fact. The league would have to believe that Price hit Ortiz was on purpose, going back to the bad blood between the teams in previous seasons.
In postgame comments, Price said he was merely trying to pitch inside and one got away from him — a common refrain from pitchers who've been accused of untoward actions. For what it's worth, Red Sox broadcaster Jerry Remy said during the broadcast he didn't think Price was throwing at Ortiz intentionally. Bellino seemed to smell a rat at the time, but all he could do was issue a warning. And yet, he wouldn't eject Price after he hit Carp (which actually looked more like an accident than the Papi plunking).
So how could MLB penalize Price? It could, because the league can do what it wants. But MLB couldn't justify it.
Workman also tried to explain the Longoria pitch that got away, saying the ball was slick from rain. A difference there: His pitch was near Longoria's head. And it didn't look like an accident. And other circumstantial evidence, such as all of the activity leading up to it, made it look bad for Workman. Referring to baseball's unwritten rules: If their team hits our team twice, our team owes them at least one back. That appeared to be what Workman was doing.
Something else that couldn't have hurt Price in this process: He came off looking much more mature than the Red Sox with his response to Ortiz's crass remarks about Price's character that included inappropriate metaphors. If Price takes the bait, plays Ortiz's war of words and gets nasty, you have to wonder if MLB doesn't give him the benefit of the doubt and punishes him.
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