Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell is concerned someone will get hurt if Major League Baseball doesn’t step in and attempt to curtail his team’s ongoing feud with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The latest chapter was written on Wednesday, when the Reds’ Eugenio Suárez was hit by a pitch on his left hand by Pirates reliever Clay Holmes.
Suárez left the game on his own accord to have X-rays, which fortunately came back negatively. Bell, on the other hand, was ejected by umpire Jeff Nelson after arguing that Holmes should have been ejected from the ballgame.
Speaking to the media immediately following the Reds’ 7-2 loss to Pittsburgh, Bell explained his frustration while sounding off on the Pirates, the umpires and the league for allowing a situation that’s resulted in multiple hit batters, ejections and suspensions to continue festering.
"For some reason, we think it's OK to throw at people. For whatever reason, that was OK many years ago, and we're still living some rules that I don't know about – that it's OK to intentionally throw at our players. The umpires think it's OK. The league thinks it's somewhat OK. Somebody's going to get hurt. We need to take as many measures as possible. Ours need to do whatever they need to do to stick up for themselves, protect themselves. They protect themselves, their career."
There were no ejections during Wednesday’s game. The situation remained relatively calm despite Suárez walking toward the pitcher’s mound.
The Reds third baseman says he simply asked if the pitch was intentional, and was satisfied with Holmes’ denial.
How the feud began
During a game on April 7, the Pirates took exception to Cincinnati's Derek Dietrich admiring a second-inning home run against Chris Archer. In Dietrich's next at-bat, Archer set off a bench-clearing brawl by throwing a pitch behind him.
That produced the iconic visual of Yasiel Puig apparently attempting to fight the entire Pirates roster.
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) April 7, 2019
Five players, along with David Bell, were ejected from that game. Archer was suspended five games. Puig was hit with a two-game ban.
It’s worth mentioning that Dietrich exacted his form of revenge later in that game by hitting a second home run into the Allegheny River.
Dietrich continued torching the Pirates on Tuesday, enjoying the first three-homer game of his career in a Cincinnati victory. That performance likely had the Reds more aware of potential retribution in Wednesday’s game.
‘We've got to take matters into our own hands’
Suárez being hit is an especially sore subject for Cincinnati. The All-Star third baseman suffered a fractured right thumb on a hit-by-pitch by the Pirates’ Jameson Taillon on April 8, 2018. That injury cost Suárez two weeks.
While Suárez was satisfied that Holmes’ pitch was not intentional, Bell was not convinced.
"We know they'll do it," Bell said. "I was doing what I could to protect our players. Clearly, we're not going to get protected. We've got to do whatever we can. We've got to take matters into our owns [sic] hands.
"It's unfortunate that our players aren't going to get protected. That's been made clear, and we know that team will intentionally throw at people. What are you supposed to think?"
In reality, it feels like Bell has done more to keep the feud going than anything that happened Wednesday. But you also can’t really fault the first-year manager for wanting to have his players’ backs.
It will be interesting to see which side of that the league falls on should it respond to Bell’s comments. Certainly, the umpires will not appreciate being called out. And we can’t imagine the league will be thrilled about the not-so-subtle hint of retaliation from the Reds’ side when the Pirates visit Cincinnati again in July.
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