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Friday, April 29, 2005
Francona, Piniella suspended three games each

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Managers Lou Piniella and Terry Francona were among six members of the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Devil Rays suspended Friday for their roles in two bench-clearing scuffles last weekend.

Piniella and Francona were suspended three games apiece and fined an undisclosed amount for their teams' actions during Boston's 11-3 victory last Sunday. The game featured six ejections, two beanballs and some high-and-tight pitching.

Boston pitcher Bronson Arroyo was given the harshest penalty, a six-game suspension. Tampa Bay pitchers Dewon Brazelton and Lance Carter were each suspended five games, and Boston outfielder Trot Nixon was suspended for two games. All four players were also fined undisclosed amounts.

Red Sox slugger David Ortiz and Tampa Bay outfielder Chris Singleton were each fined for their roles in the fracas. They will both appeal the fines.

All four suspended players will also appeal, and Nixon was in the starting lineup for the Red Sox on Friday night at Texas. Arroyo is the scheduled starter Saturday for Boston, and Piniella said Brazelton will take his turn Sunday against Baltimore.

"Six days is six days. ... I'm not surprised at all," Arroyo said. "I'm going to appeal just for the sake of appealing."

Asked if the harsh penalty would be a deterrent for such scuffles in the future, Arroyo said he didn't think so and wouldn't hesitate to protect his teammates.

"In a game like that, once it gets out of hand, it gets out of hand. People don't care what the consequences are going to be. It's just out of respect of protecting your players," he said. "If the situation calls for it, I have no problem protecting guys on my team."

All six suspensions where scheduled to begin Friday night, but players can play until their appeal is heard. The managers can't appeal their penalties.

Francona didn't agree with the three-game suspension he got and talked Friday to Bob Watson and other baseball officials.

"I'm not happy with the way it ended, but I appreciate them listening. I was surprised when it didn't change," Francona said. "There were some things I certainly didn't understand, but that's probably always the case when you don't agree."

Piniella, who watched the Devil Rays play Baltimore on Friday night from the press box at Camden Yards, was surprised with the severity of his suspension and said it was his longest as a manager.

"I wasn't expecting it, I was expecting a fine," Piniella said. "I was expecting possibly a one-game suspension. I'm going to adhere to what came my way and be done with it."

Arroyo hit Singleton in the seventh inning after both teams had been warned. Arroyo also hit Aubrey Huff in the sixth inning.

In the top half of the seventh inning, Carter nearly beaned Manny Ramirez before the Boston star homered on the next pitch. Then Carter almost hit Ortiz in the head, causing both benches to clear. Brazelton shoved into the crowd as the teams met on the diamond and was ejected for "escalating the situation," according to umpire crew chief Rick Reed. Nixon was also ejected.

"I'm not going to be happy when somebody was throwing at my head on purpose," said Ortiz, who plans to appeal his fine. "If you saw the video, that was right at my head. That's not my game."

Brazelton was embarrassed by the scuffle and by how he was portrayed afterward.

"I was made out to be a hoodlum in front of the national public," Brazelton said. "I wasn't raised like that. I'm not saying he [Nixon] was. I think he thinks that. I had no intention of fighting anybody.

"Everybody has seen it a thousand times. I don't want people to think I'm a hoodlum," he said.

The teams met again after Singleton was hit, prompting a four-minute delay.