Outfielder Ryan Sweeney was probably channeling the frustration of Red Sox fans when he punched a door, badly fracturing his hand. Sweeney, who always played hard, was quick to apologize for his mistake. But his inability to control his temper cost the Sox significantly: The injury came on the eve of the trading deadline, when he was widely expected to be dealt for a minor-league prospect. Sweeney’s punch may have cost the Sox a great player; at the very least, it deprived them of Sweeney’s services for a third of the season.
Sweeney isn’t among the higher paid Red Sox, but how the Sox address the door-punching incident could set a precedent. Should the team put Sweeney on baseball’s disqualified list for “fail[ing] to render services to his club,” a move that would allow him to rehab with the team and receive health benefits but not pay? The Cleveland Indians did this last month with pitcher Nick Hagadone when he hurt his hand in a similar fit of frustration.
How would the Sox feel if the door puncher had been one of the high-salaried disappointments who loom over the team like crows on a wire — Josh Beckett, John Lackey, or Carl Crawford? As much as the team might want to cut Sweeney a break, docking his pay would be justified. It would send a signal to his teammates that ballplayers, like other workers, must behave in an appropriate manner.