The ramifications from the massive brawl in Thursday night's game against the Boston Red Sox continue to be the primary topic of discussion, with the issue at hand now being how the Rays can best deal with the suspensions handed down yesterday by Major League Baseball. But first, Rays Manager Joe Maddon said he was unhappy with what he perceived as the unfair nature of the discipline:
"I would like to have seen more of their guys involved in the suspensions; it just seems to be a little bit imbalanced in our favor," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Furthermore, the way the whole thing began, it was perpetrated on their side, so that part of it has the unfairness attached to it.
"The fact that their guy started it and we had more guys nailed than they did, that's the part that doesn't sit well with me, even in regard to the game (Thursday), where they only got one guy thrown out."
Maddon also said that he was "proud" of the way the Rays handled the fracas on Thursday.
MLB staggered the Rays' suspensions, as they do whenever multiple players from the same team are disciplined, with OF Jonny Gomes and RHP Jamie Shields to start their suspensions last night. Both appealed, however, and so no suspensions will begin until the appellate hearing is heard or the appeal is dropped. Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times says that the Rays will maneuver to suit the suspensions to their upcoming schedule:
Under one scenario they are considering, Shields will make his next start as scheduled Tuesday at Anaheim, then drop his appeal and serve his suspension. Under another, he could start Sunday or Monday, because he threw only 27 pitches Thursday.
With two upcoming off days in a five-day period, Thursday and June 16, the Rays are weighing the impact on their bullpen if they have to use Jason Hammel as a spot starter.
Elsewhere, columnist Joe Henderson of the Tampa Tribune weighs in on Thursday's brawl. He thinks that the consequences were worth it for the Rays:
Was it worth it?
Was it worth having Carl Crawford, James Shields, Akinori Iwamura, Edwin Jackson and Jonny Gomes suspended? Was it worth essentially conceding a game where the Rays trailed by only two runs in just the second inning?
Was it worth the risk that Shields could have busted up his shoulder? Or that someone else could have been hurt in the scrum that took place in the center of the infield Thursday night at Fenway Park?
Sure it was.
On the other hand, columnist Gary Shelton of the Times had pretty much the exact opposite take:
Perhaps the Rays made their point. On the other hand, they also lost their game.
Pardon me for asking, but isn't that supposed to be the important part?
Yep, the Rays showed those infernal Red Sox that they weren't going to take any guff. On the other hand, they also gave away their best shot at retaking first place.
Forgive me for wondering, but isn't that the thing that is supposed to matter?
That's why Thursday night's fight seemed like such a losing proposition for the Rays. Somehow, they forgot what they were supposed to be fighting for, and before you knew it, they were once again on their way to being knocked out in Fenway.
And lastly, some player reactions to the whole ordeal:
As for Crisp's postfight assertion that the Rays were "trying to pull my hair like little girls ... instead of throwing some real punches or something like that," Gomes - who was pictured in newspapers across the country Friday with his fist cocked above a prostrate Crisp - had to object.
"I know he's not talking about me," Gomes said.
While the Rays presented a united front in defending their actions, they weren't exactly puffing out their chests about what had transpired.
"It's nothing to be proud of," Jackson said. "It's not some big accomplishment. It's one of those situations that the only way to explain it is instincts."
Added Crawford: "I just wish it didn't have to happen, but it happened, so you can't really go back."
Both local (Times) papers (Tribune) headed up their day two draft coverage with blurbs on the Rays selecting Jeremy Beckham, Tim's older brother, in the 17th round. Both pieces essentially say the same thing: how both brothers are close and will spur each other to work harder, yet Jeremy's benefits extend beyond his relationship with his younger brother. The Times piece also had this interesting tidbit about draft strategy with regards to looking for left-handed pitchers:
Harrison said the Rays targeted left-handed pitching throughout the spring, and it showed in Friday's second day of the draft, as Tampa Bay took 10 lefties in their final 44 selections. "To me, I'd rather take a chance at (lefties); they are so few or far between," Harrison said. "If we can find one of those guys that has the ability to get left-handed hitters out, they can pitch their way out of the minor leagues and help us."
RHP Troy Percival threw a 28 pitch bullpen session Friday afternoon, and he said that his strained left hamstring and arm felt "great". Percival will throw a simulated game in Anaheim next week, and he has already arrived in Southern California to spend time with family. The righty is expected to be ready to come off the Disabled List when first eligible on June 13th.
Meanwhile, 1B Carlos Peña will not be ready to come back from the disabled list when he is eligible on June 19th, reports Maddon. Maddon says that Peña, out with a fractured left index finger, should return within short order after that date.
Lastly, OF Rocco Baldelli played again in Extended Spring Training on Friday as the Designated Hitter and went 1 for 6. He will play two more games in Extended ST on Monday and Wednesday before the team decides how to proceed with him long-term.