Ryan Dempster suspended five games, Joe Girardi fined following the A-Rod plunking

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Major League Baseball did what it had to do: the league just announced that the Red Sox Ryan Dempster has received a five-game suspension and an undisclosed fine for intentionally throwing at and hitting Alex Rodriguez with a pitch in the top of the second inning of Sunday night’s game.

If it hadn’t suspended Dempster, the league would have been sending a message to the rest of baseball that throwing at a batter intentionally — or, at the very least, unpopular ones like A-Rod — was acceptable. That’s simply untenable for a league which purports to disapprove of pitchers throwing at batters on purpose.

Joe Girardi was fined due to his animated argument with umpire Brian O’Nora.

The Red Sox have two games off in the next week, so Dempster is unlikely to even miss a start, *rendering this more of a five-game’s-salary fine as opposed to an actual suspension. That is, assuming he doesn’t appeal.  Which, given that many are saying that Dempster hit A-Rod because he disagreed with Rodriguez being allowed to play pending the appeal of his own suspension, would be pretty rich indeed.

UPDATE: No, I was wrong. He still gets his salary, which makes this 100% symbolic, minus the fine.

Tigers sign Josh Thole to minors deal

Josh Thole
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The Tigers signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league deal, per an announcement from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Thole is expected to report to Double-A Erie, where he’ll split time with starting catcher Jake Rogers.

Thole, 31, has not appeared in a major or minor league game since 2016. He signed a minors deal with the Diamondbacks back in 2017, but was sidelined through most of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery in April. He was released by the team during spring training and failed to catch on with another major league club through the first two months of the 2018 season.

While the veteran backstop hasn’t tested his skills in pro ball for several years now, he held his own during a short-lived run with the independent New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League. Over 17 games in 2018, Thole batted .317/.425/.367 with three extra-base hits and a .791 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He’s expected to serve as catching depth within the Tigers’ organization, but may yet work his way back to the majors if he can get his average back over the Mendoza Line again — a feat he hasn’t managed since 2015.