Jose Urena
AP Photo

José Ureña to appeal six-game suspension for hitting Ronald Acuña

24 Comments

Marlins right-hander José Ureña is planning to appeal his six-game suspension, the pitcher revealed Friday. Ureña was both suspended and fined after intentionally throwing at and hitting Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña with a 97.5-MPH fastball in the first inning of Wednesday’s 5-2 loss. The suspension won’t take effect until his appeal is heard and ruled on, and club manager Don Mattingly said he might still use the righty in Sunday’s series finale against the Nationals.

Bill has a full breakdown of the incident, along with a compelling case for making an example out of the 26-year-old in order to deter other pitchers from taking similarly violent measures in the future and perpetuating an irresponsible culture of revenge. While addressing the press on Friday, Ureña again insisted that the hit by pitch was unintentional, then followed up the non-apology with this statement (per MLB.com’s Kyle Melnick):

When people know me, the people know,” Ureña said. “I [am] competitive when I get out there. You feel like you go face somebody, be aggressive. Sometimes, you see people make comments when they don’t know [you].

According to Melnick, the right-hander currently leads all National League hurlers with 11 HBP in 2018. Cubs left-hander Cole Hamels holds the season record, with 15, followed by the Royals’ Jakob Junis (13), White Sox’ Lucas Giolito (13), and Astros’ Charlie Morton (12).

Acuña, meanwhile, was cleared to play on both Thursday and Friday after the CT scans on his left elbow came back clean and his X-rays returned negative. A quick return to full health doesn’t excuse Ureña’s actions, of course, and it’ll be interesting to see how the teams handle the aftermath of the hit by pitch when they face off against each other again on Thursday. It’s still possible that Ureña sustains his appeal through Wednesday, allowing him to pitch against the Nationals on Sunday or the Yankees on Tuesday or Wednesday, then drops the appeal in order to avoid next weekend’s series against the Braves.

Rob Manfred calls Astros sign-stealing investigation ‘most thorough’ MLB investigation ever

Associated Press
1 Comment

SAN DIEGO — Commissioner Rob Manfred was asked today about the status of the investigation into the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. Manfred said “I think that this is probably the most thorough investigation that the Commissioner’s office has ever undertaken.”

I would assume that construction excludes the Mitchell Report, which was undertaken by an outside party, but I guess it’s still quite a claim.

Manfred said that Major League Baseball has interviewed “nearly 60 witnesses” and has reviewed 76,000 e-mails plus a “trove of instant messages.” He said that they are not done, however, and that the review so far has, “caused us to conclude that we have to do some follow-up interviewing.” He said he cannot predict how long the investigation will take, but “it is my hope to conclude the investigation just as promptly as possible.”

Manfred was asked about the sort of discipline he and his office were contemplating but said, “at this point in the investigation it would be wholly inappropriate for me to speculate” about what discipline was in play.

The investigation comes in the wake of the November 12 report in The Athletic about the Astros’ sign-stealing operation, which allegedly involved use of center field video cameras and the relaying of pitch selection to batters. Former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers confirmed the scheme to The Athletic and at least three other Astros employees confirmed it as well.

In the wake of that initial report, video and audio emerged which appeared to confirm the sign-stealing and emails from an Astros executive to scouts, asking them to use cameras and/or binoculars in an effort to steal signs have been uncovered. Major League Baseball has vowed serious punishment for Astros executives, coaches and employees who were involved in orchestrating the scheme and to any players or officials who are found to be untruthful with MLB officials in the course of the investigation.

Initially, Major League Baseball said its investigation would be a wide-ranging one, including multiple teams. Soon after that, however, Manfred controversially backtracked on that, saying instead that the probe would focus only on the Astros. Which, to be sure, is the club against whom current allegations have been lodged and whom many around the game suspect to be the worst offenders. As we have noted, however, it’s highly unreasonable to assume that the Astros are alone in perpetrating a sophisticated sign-stealing operation, as their scheme was allegedly imported by a player who learned it while playing elsewhere.

Either way, it sounds like MLB has a lot on its plate with this. When we know something, you’ll know something.