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Friday, May 26, 2006

Cubs Barrett Suspended For 10-Games; Video Of Home Plate Fight Show Hard Collision Caused It

I know Barrett should have received some punishment for his hit on A.J. Pierzynski, but if you look at the video below, it's obvious that Pierzynski was a little too violent in his collision with Barrett. Still, A.J. Pierzynski gets to play without punishment.

Scuffle costs Cubs' Barrett 10 games
Catcher appeals ruling; Pierzynski fined undisclosed amount
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs catcher Michael Barrett has appealed a 10-game suspension issued on Friday by Major League Baseball for his actions that sparked an on-field fight against the Chicago White Sox last weekend.
Bob Watson, vice president of on-field operations for Major League Baseball, announced the penalties on Friday. In the statement issued by MLB, Barrett was suspended 10 games and fined an undisclosed amount for his violent actions, which led to the incident.

"I understand there are consequences to my actions," Barrett said in a statement before Friday's game. "I would've wished the punishment would be less stringent, but I am hopeful that upon appeal, it will be lessened. Ultimately, I want to move on from this and help the Chicago Cubs win baseball games."

White Sox outfielder Brian Anderson was suspended for five games and fined an undisclosed amount for his aggressive and violent actions during the incident. White Sox third-base coach Joey Cory was suspended for two games and fined for his aggressive actions.

Barrett and White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski collided at home plate in the second inning of last Saturday's 7-0 White Sox win over the Cubs at U.S. Cellular Field. Four players were ejected.

The White Sox had one out and the bases loaded against Rich Hill in a scoreless game. Anderson flied out to left, and Pierzynski ran home on the sacrifice fly. He barreled into Barrett at the plate, and both fell over. Pierzynski then slapped the plate with his hand. Pierzynski got up and was walking toward Barrett, who grabbed the White Sox catcher and delivered a right punch to his face. Both benches emptied.

"I was next to Joey and was pulling him out of there," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "I don't know what he did, but something must have come out on the film for him to be suspended."

Pierzynski was fined an undisclosed amount for his conduct during the incident.

Barrett was in the starting lineup on Friday for the Cubs' series opener against the Atlanta Braves. No date was set for a hearing on his appeal.

"I thought it was a little harsh," Baker said of Barrett's penalty. "We knew it was going to be something. We were hoping it wouldn't be that many days. It's going to be tough to imagine being without Michael for that many days."

Barrett would not go into details as to how he will handle his argument to try and reduce the suspension.

"I didn't know what to expect," Barrett said. "I've never been in a situation like this. I tried to prepare myself for the worst-case scenario and obviously hope for the best. At this point, I'll take whatever comes and hope for the best."

Barrett also would not comment on the penalty against Pierzynski, who was not suspended.

"At this point, all I'm worried about is getting back out there and helping my team win today and get the suspension lessened," Barrett said. "I'm not really worried about what has happened to anyone else."

However, Baker said he was surprised Pierzynski didn't get a suspension.

"Kind of, yeah. Whenever there's a cause, there's an effect," Baker said. "The effect was Michael."

Baker would not suggest what he would consider an appropriate penalty.

"I'm not the judge here. I can't answer that," Baker said.

After the incident, Barrett called it a clean play by Pierzynski. The White Sox catcher said he was walking toward Barrett because he was going after his helmet.

When Barrett serves his suspension, the Cubs will have to play a man short. Baker said that they will likely call up another catcher from the Minor Leagues to have a backup for Henry Blanco, which means that someone will have to be sent down. Ten games is a long time, especially considering how the Cubs have been scuffling. Barrett was batting .291 with six homers and 21 RBIs entering Friday's game.

"This is pretty severe, I think," Baker said of the penalty.

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said he will try to get Barrett's suspension reduced.

"In fairness to Michael, you get jolted like that and you get knocked a little silly," Hendry said. "And A.J. did take a few steps toward our side of the field, and I think it's just normal that you would react that there was going to be more action or some kind of second confrontation, and I hope Michael would be given some kind of leniency for that."

This is the longest suspension for a Cubs player issued by Major League Baseball. Sammy Sosa received an eight-game suspension for using a corked bat in 2003, and that was reduced to seven games.

"Whether it was five to seven to 10, it's not a good thing," Hendry said. "Michael's one of the best hitters at his position in the game -- as proven by his Silver Slugger Award last year -- and you know offensively we've been poor the last three or four weeks. The other guys have to start doing a better job, too, and you just can't sit there playing the game, waiting for Derrek [Lee] to come back -- that'd be unfair to him.

"Obviously, it would do some damage offensively, but under tough times, people have to rise to the occasion around him and do a better job of knocking in runs and pick it up a little bit," Hendry said.

Barrett, 29, has had his run-ins before. In 2004, he and Houston pitcher Roy Oswalt exchanged words at home plate, and this year, Barrett had a verbal exchange with San Diego's Dave Roberts.

But Barrett was not proud of the punch.

"I think I'll be OK," he said. "It was good to get some games in between the incident and coming back here. We're facing a tough pitcher today and I've got my work cut out for me, and I look forward to playing today's game.

"It's been a learning experience," Barrett said. "It's something I'm looking forward to putting behind me."


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