CLEVELAND — Red Sox pitcher Brandon Workman was suspended six games by Major League Baseball for throwing a pitch behind the head of Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria on Friday.
Workman was informed of the decision Tuesday and immediately appealed. He will make his scheduled start against the Cleveland Indians Wednesday night.
MLB said Workman was disciplined because the pitch to Longoria came after both teams had been warned against retaliation by home plate umpire Dan Bellino in the first inning after Tampa Bay lefthander David Price hit Red Sox slugger David Ortiz in the back with a fastball.
Price was not suspended.
“I really didn’t know what to expect. That’s their decision,” Workman said. “We’re going to appeal it. I knew beforehand that if you get ejected, automatically you’re fined. I didn’t know about a suspension.”
Workman was certainly acting in defense of a veteran teammate. But he repeated his words from last week, saying the ball slipped out of his hands because it was raining.
“Hopefully they take that into consideration,” said Workman, who until Friday never had been ejected from a game in his career.
Ortiz was far less measured with his words.
“I don’t even know what to say,” said Ortiz. “They started everything up and we have to pay for it, basically. That’s the message that I’m getting, right? I don’t have any answers about that.”
Ortiz also appreciated what Workman did.
“He’s supposed to back up his teammate,” said Ortiz. “That’s what he did. I don’t want to see anybody getting hit or getting hurt, you know what I’m saying?
“To be honest with you, nobody planned Workman going out there and trying to hit Longoria. He missed, but at least he sent a message. You hit my players, I hit yours.”
Red Sox manager John Farrell said the team presented a case to MLB senior vice president of standards and operations Joe Garagiola Jr.
“They thought this was the appropriate way to go,” said Farrell.
MLB, as is custom, offered no explanation beyond a statement saying Workman was suspended.
The incidents stemmed from Game 2 of the American League Division Series last season. Ortiz hit two home runs off Price and watched the second one for a few seconds before jogging around the bases.
Price took offense and called Ortiz after the game to complain. The Tampa Bay pitcher also ranted on social media about him. Price later called Ortiz back and apologized. Price also apologized via Twitter.
“Everything was fine,” Ortiz said.
Ortiz then used a string of expletives to describe what he thought about Price waiting seven months after his apology to hit him.
Given the previous encounter, the fact that Price intentionally hit Ortiz was obvious, and Bellino quickly issued a warning.
Price essentially admitted his intent the next day, saying he acted in the same fashion pitchers did years ago. Ortiz can’t understand how MLB didn’t take that into account.
“I thought the rule was for everybody,” he said. “I thought that the minute you figure someone hit someone on purpose — the rule says it right there — you’re going to follow up with it. In this case, it seems like they ain’t.”
In Miami, Price had little reaction when told what Ortiz said.
“I’m past it,” he told reporters. “I have nothing else to say. People are going to have enough to say. I’m over it.”
Rays manager Joe Maddon chided Ortiz.
“I’d like to believe if he . . . had more of an opportunity to think about it, he’d respond differently,” Maddon said.
The Rays do not play the Red Sox again until July 25. If Price hits Ortiz again, prepare for fireworks.
“I made my point clear,” said Ortiz. “I’m not going to get hit again, not by him. I’m not going to get hit again by him.
“He did it on purpose. He punked me and that was very disrespectful. I’m a grown-ass man. I’ve been around the league a long time and I know how to take care of business on my own.”Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com.