Major League Baseball has announced a five-game suspension for Orioles third baseman Manny Machado as a result of his bat-throwing antics in the Orioles-Athletics game on Sunday. He has also received an undisclosed fine. Fernando Abad, the A’s pitcher who threw at Machado, has received an undisclosed fine but no suspension.
Tim Brown of Yahoo was the first to report that the discipline was coming down. Brown says Machado will appeal the suspension.
Reaction? It seems light to me. The last time someone was suspended for throwing a bat the way Machado did was in 2002 when the Red Sox’ Trot Nixon helicoptered a bat at Devil Rays pitcher Ryan Rupe. Nixon got four games. Thing is, however, since 2002 the suspensions for on-field things like beanballs and starting fights have gone up a few games. In light of that, one would think that inflation would hit something as severe as bat-throwing a bit harder than it appears to have.
The Red Sox, who won the AL East last season with a 93-69 record, have under-performed so far this season, entering Wednesday’s action with just two more wins than losses at 23-21. The club hasn’t had a winning streak of more than two games since April 15-18. As a result, manager John Farrell may be on the hot seat, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported on Tuesday.
Beyond the mediocre record, Rosenthal cites two incidents that happened this season that caused Farrell’s stock to drop. The first was the brouhaha with the Orioles when Manny Machado slid into Dustin Pedroia at second base, causing Pedroia to suffer an injury. When reliever Matt Barnes intentionally threw a fastball at Machado, Pedroia was seen telling Machado, “It wasn’t me. It’s them.” The word “them,” of course, would ostensibly be referring to Barnes and Farrell.
The second incident happened last week when pitcher Drew Pomeranz challenged Farrell in the dugout after being removed with a pitch count of 97. Rosenthal suggests that some of Farrell’s players aren’t on the same page as the skipper.
Rosenthal also mentions that Farrell didn’t have the entire backing of the Red Sox clubhouse in 2013, when the club won the World Series. So the issues this year may not be unique; they may be part of a larger trend.
The biggest impediment in making a managerial change for the Red Sox is having a good candidate. After letting Torey Lovullo leave after last season to manage the Diamondbacks, the team’s two most likely interim candidates would be bench coach Gary DiSarcina and third base coach Brian Butterfield. DiSarcina has one year of managing experience above Single-A (Triple-A Pawtucket in 2013). Butterfield hasn’t managed in 15 years.