Boston right-hander Josh Beckett was stunned Tuesday after receiving a six-game suspension from Major League Baseball, which determined he intentionally threw a pitch near the head of the Los Angeles Angels' Bobby Abreu last week.
Beckett, who immediately appealed the ruling, also was fined an undisclosed amount and cited for "aggressive actions" after the pitch that led to the benches clearing Sunday, according to Bob Watson, vice president for discipline in the commissioner's office.
"We were pretty shocked," Beckett said before the Red Sox's game against the Athletics in Oakland, Calif. "I think the appeal speaks for everything that we feel. I respect the job they have to do, but I don't agree."
Any suspension wouldn't begin until after Beckett's appeal is decided, likely allowing him to make his next scheduled start on Saturday against Baltimore.
Angels hitting coach Mickey Hatcher also was angry after being
suspended for one game and fined, although he served the penalty
Tuesday night at Seattle. In addition, Watson fined Angels manager
Mike Scioscia and players Torii Hunter and Justin Speier.
The incident began when Abreu was granted a timeout after a long
pause on the mound by Beckett, who was holding Chone Figgins on
second base. Beckett finished his throwing motion in any pitcher's normal attempt to avoid injury from a sudden stop, but his throw went in the direction of Abreu's head.
Beckett insists the throw's direction was unintentional.
"It's what we're taught to do," Beckett said. "We have to kind of protect ourselves in those situations. That ball could have ended up anywhere, and that's unfortunate where it ended up. That's why I'm standing dealing with all this stuff."
The throw infuriated the Angels' bench and Abreu, who raised his arms and stared at Beckett. The pitcher then moved toward Abreu,
causing both benches to clear, although no real fighting went on.
"I don't really feel like I've done anything," Beckett said. "I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do. Am I supposed to give him a hug? I wasn't really in a hugging mood right then. I really don't know what he wanted me to do."
Boston manager Terry Francona left Anaheim under the impression that the umpiring crew didn't feel Beckett or the Red Sox had done anything wrong.
"I didn't expect to hear from the league," Francona said. "Sounds like they overruled the umpires, and that's disturbing."
"I understand where the ball went, and I understand why they (Angels) were yelling," Francona added. "When guys are yelling at Beckett, you can't leave the field and just let him stand out there. I did not think he was the aggressor. I'm sure we'll have our say at some point. It's obvious he's going to appeal. I'm disappointed we're even going through this."
Hatcher also was unhappy he was suspended for what he said was merely yelling at the umpires.
"I think it's brutal," Hatcher said. "I've been in a lot of brawls and never been thrown out. Nobody should have been thrown out - except one person (Beckett). There were no punches, just a lot of words being said."
Scioscia was pleased with the outcome.
"It makes us feel good that Major League Baseball really supported our position, especially since we were somehow portrayed as the aggressors in that," Scioscia said. "I think upon review, Major League Baseball determined Beckett's actions prompted this by approaching Bobby Abreu and shaking his finger at him. We didn't retaliate, and I think Major League Baseball appreciates that."