Cleveland Indians right-hander Carlos Carrasco swears he didn't hit Kevin Youkilis on purpose. I don't think anyone really believes him. Not as long as they consider the context of the game, or the context of Carrasco's unusual career.
Umpire Jordan Baker wasn't buying it, either, ejecting Carrasco in the top of the fourth inning Tuesday night after he hit Youkilis in the back — and almost in the head — in the New York Yankees' 14-1 trouncing of the Tribe. Youkilis got plunked one pitch after Robinson Cano hit a two-run homer. Manager Terry Francona came out to argue but, in his Francona's defense, he was managing elsewhere the previous time Carrasco did something like this.
The Yankees sequence was eerily similar to Carrasco's second-to-last appearance in late July 2011, when he threw right over the top of Billy Butler's head immediately after Melky Cabrera had hit a grand slam for the Kansas City Royals. Carrasco was ejected then, too, and was suspended for six games because of the Royals incident. But he only recently finished serving his penalty because, in his final start of '11 a few days later, he injured his elbow and needed Tommy John ligament replacement surgery. Carrasco missed the rest of the '11 season and all of '12 — and then he proceeds to get thrown out of his big return.
MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports that Carrasco waited outside of Francona's office to apologize, telling his skipper it was unintentional:
"I know it doesn't look good," Carrasco said. "I really want to say sorry. I don't want to hit anybody."
He now might face another suspension.
"I don't want to do anything bad," Carrasco said. "I waited a year and a half to get my suspension [done] and everything. I don't want to do that again. I don't want to be suspended."
Francona tried giving his guy the benefit of the doubt, and even Youkilis said something to the effect of, "Well, you never really know intent... ." Yankees manager Joe Girardi wasn't born yesterday, though.
"That was right in the middle of his back after a home run."
So, what should MLB do with Carrasco? Since he actually hit a guy this time, at least a 12-game suspension seems in order. Maybe anger management class. Purpose pitch management class? A lifetime sentence to Triple-A?
Hitting guys on purpose, if that's what happened, is bad enough. But aim for the ribs, or the butt, or something without a brain in it, if you're going to play that game.