The D-Backs weren’t kidding about the retaliation thing

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Back in October, Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers made headlines extolling the virtues of protecting your teammates. Towers was particularly upset that first baseman Paul Goldschmidt was hit by a pitch and the pitching staff did nothing — no revenge. From MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert:

Tuesday on his weekly show broadcast on KTAR 620AM, Towers was asked about his comments earlier in the day about wanting the D-backs’ pitchers to own the inner half of the plate.

“But I think come Spring Training, it will be duly noted that it’s going to be an eye for an eye and we’re going to protect one another,” Towers said of what his message would be to the pitchers next spring. “If not, if you have options, there’s ways to get you out of here, and you don’t follow suit or you don’t feel comfortable doing it, you probably don’t belong in a Diamondbacks uniform.”

On Wednesday, D-Backs first baseman Mark Trumbo was hit in the back by Rockies pitcher Tommy Kahnle in the top of the fourth inning. In the bottom half of the fourth, D-Backs pitcher Wade Miley threw at Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, hitting him in the calf. As a result, Tulowitzki has been dealing with a deep calf bruise and pain in his fibula as well, and won’t play for another few days.

Manager Kirk Gibson denied that there was intent behind Miley’s errant pitch to Tulowitzki. Via Troy Renck of the Denver Post:

“It’s part of the game. It can happen in spring or during the regular season,” Gibson said. “I think one of the things we’ve focused on is using all quadrants of the plate. We’re not out there intentionally trying to hurt anybody. Nobody wants their guy to get hit and neither do we, but it’s part of the game.”

Renck correctly adds that, as a result of their previous comments on the issue, the D-Backs can’t be given the benefit of the doubt. While no one on the Rockies would come out and say point-blank that they think the D-Backs threw at Tulowitzki intentionally, the devil was in the details.

Hopefully, this is the last we hear of D-Backs pitchers throwing at opposing players. Otherwise, it might not be until someone gets hit in the head and suffers a concussion that their embarrassing behavior is punished.

Major League Baseball needs to make an example out of José Ureña

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We’re about an hour and a half separated from the first pitch of Wednesday night’s Marlins/Braves game that featured Marlins starter José Ureña hitting Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña on the elbow with a first-pitch, 97.5 MPH fastball. The benches emptied, Ureña was ejected, and the game went on. Acuña left the game not long after to tend to his injured elbow.

After the game, when the Marlins speak to the media, they will almost certainly deny any ill intent towards Acuña, who had hit leadoff home runs in three consecutive games against them. When they do so, they will be lying. Watch how catcher J.T. Realmuto sets up on the first pitch.

ESPN Stats & Info notes that Ureña’s 97.5 MPH fastball was in the 99th percentile in terms of velocity of the 2,125 pitches he has thrown this season. It was also the fastest pitch Ureña has ever thrown to begin a game. Ureña put a little extra mustard on this pitch, for some reason.

Ureña has a 6.8 percent walk rate, which ranks 37th out of 95 starters with at least 100 innings of work this season. The major league average is eight percent. Control isn’t typically something with which he struggles.

Furthermore, Acuña isn’t the only player who has drawn Ureña’s ire:

Ureña wanted nothing to do with Hoskins — even though Hoskins has yet to get a hit off of him — in his August 4 start at home against the Phillies, walking him twice which included a few up-and-in pitches.

Ureña will almost certainly be fined and suspended for his actions on Wednesday night against Acuña. But will his punishment be enough to deter him and others from wielding a baseball as a weapon? Probably not. On June 19, when Marlins starter Dan Straily intentionally threw at Buster Posey, he received a five-game suspension and manager Don Mattingly was suspended one game. If you look at Straily’s game logs, you can’t even tell he was suspended. He started six days later on June 25 against the Diamondbacks and again on July 1 and 6. Because starters only pitch once every five days, it was like he wasn’t even suspended at all.

Major League Baseball needs to levy harsher punishments on players who attempt to injure other players. A 15-game suspension, for example, would force Ureña to miss at least two starts and it would inconvenience the Marlins enough to more seriously weigh the pros and cons of exacting revenge. The Marlins couldn’t work around it the way they did Straily by pushing back his scheduled start one day.

Major League Baseball also needs to make a legitimate effort to do away with this culture of revenge against players who are just a little bit too happy. Batters get thrown at when they flip their bats, when they yell at themselves in frustration, and even when they’re just hitting well. Baseball’s stagnating audience is very old, very white, and very male. It is not going to bring in fans from diverse backgrounds by keeping this antiquated culture that prevents baseball players from showing their personalities and being emotive. In the event Acuña needs to go on the disabled list for a couple weeks, that’s two weeks that Acuña isn’t on SportsCenter’s top-10, isn’t on the front page of MLB.com, and isn’t in articles like this. The culture of revenge is actively harming MLB’s ability to market its bright, young stars. If ending this culture of revenge doesn’t hit MLB from a moral angle, it should absolutely hit home from a business angle.