After Franklin Morales drilled Luke Scott in the top of the ninth — apparent retaliation for a plunking of Dustin Pedroia earlier — benches cleared in Friday’s game between the Rays and Red Sox at Fenway Park, which Tampa Bay went on to win 7-4.
Some bad blood likely carried over from last week’s series in Tampa Bay, in which the Rays hit Adrian Gonzalez and Morales later came back and plunked Will Rhymes. It was a similar scene tonight, with Pedroia getting hit and the Red Sox later going after Scott. Morales actually threw behind Scott once before coming back and hitting him in the knee.
The oddity is that neither Morales nor Scott, who held on to his bat while jawing at Morales after the plunking, was ejected from the game. Morales certainly deserved to be tossed; his intentions were clear after he threw behind Scott. Scott didn’t really do much wrong himself.
Also unusual: the coaching staffs seemed much more interested in mixing it up than the players did after the benches cleared. Rays coaches George Hendrick and Jim Hickey and Red Sox coach Tim Bogar — a former Rays coach — and manager Bobby Valentine seemed more belligerent that anyone else.
After things appeared to settle down and the parties returned to their dugouts, there was another incident, this one apparently involving some fans, that had B.J. Upton coming back out of the Rays dugout and pointing up to the stands. We may hear more about what happened there after the game.
Morales went on to finish the inning after order was restored. Still, he could well find himself suspended for a few games for his actions tonight.
Major League Baseball just announced that there will be a pitch clock for spring training. It will be a 20-second pitch clock, phased in like so:
- In the first Spring Training games, the 20-second timer will operate without enforcement so as to make players and umpires familiar with the new system;
- Early next week, umpires will issue reminders to pitchers and hitters who violate the rule, but no ball-strike penalties will be assessed. Between innings, umpires are expected to inform the club’s field staff (manager, pitching coach or hitting coach) of any violations; and
- Later in Spring Training, and depending on the status of the negotiations with the Major League Baseball Players Association, umpires will be instructed to begin assessing ball-strike penalties for violations.
As is the case in the minors, the batter will have to be in the batter’s box and alert to the pitcher with at least five seconds remaining on the timer; and the pitcher needs only to begin his windup before the 20-second timer expires, as opposed to having thrown the pitch. The timer will not be used on the first pitch of any at-bat. Rather, it begins running prior to the second pitch once the pitcher receives the ball from the catcher.
The league has not decided if the pitch clock will be used in the regular season yet. It can do so unilaterally, without union approval, for one year if it chooses to since it first introduced the idea last year.
There will likely be a lot of complaining about this, but as someone who has been to several minor league games with the clock in place, it’s pretty seamless and not noticeable. Minor leaguers had few if any complaints about its implementation.