By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun
9:20 PM EDT, July 18, 2011
Orioles closer Kevin Gregg and Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, the two main combatants in the July 8 bench-clearing brawl in Boston, saw their suspensions reduced from four games to three and began serving them during the three-game series that started Monday at Camden Yards.
That doesn't mean Gregg thinks the punishment — which included a $2,500 fine that has undergone a "slight reduction" — fits his crime, particularly because Ortiz, who charged the mound, received the same discipline.
"I talked to the league a little bit. I talked to the players association a little bit. But the bottom line is trying to do what's in the best interest of the team," Gregg said. "Ortiz is taking his time now, so I still don't think it's fair that we have the same fine, same suspension. But we're going to move past that point and get on with the season."
The Orioles and Red Sox cannot replace Gregg or Ortiz on their respective rosters for the next three games. Gregg said he doesn't expect any carryover from the Boston series, but he's still miffed that Orioles designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero (cracked bone in right hand) has been lost for at least 15 days and Ortiz is gone for only three.
"You look at the whole breakdown of it — we lost our DH for two weeks, and they lost theirs for three days," he said. "So, no, it's not fair. But what you can do? You got to play the game."
Gregg also reiterated that the Red Sox lead the American League with 55 hit batters — 15 more than any other AL team — and the Orioles are last with 21. The Orioles were out-plunked 4-1 by the Red Sox in their last series.
"We weren't even guy-for-a-guy at all, and they complain about us pitching in. I pitched in to David [Ortiz] and got him out, and there were complaints," Gregg said. "So sometimes I think they hold themselves to a little bit higher standard than everybody else. I think we should all be treated equally."
The July 8 incident escalated after Gregg threw three inside pitches to Ortiz, who took offense to the third pitch, then swung at the 3-0 offering and popped up. He didn't run out of the batter's box, Gregg jawed at him and Ortiz came at him. The two exchanged punches that didn't land while the benches cleared. Orioles pitcher Jim Johnson and Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia were ejected and subsequently fined.
The next two days included a warning to Boston's John Lackey for hitting two Orioles on Saturday and the ejections Sunday of Boston pitcher Kyle Weiland (who hit two batters) and Orioles reliever Michael Gonzalez (who threw behind Ortiz) and both managers.
Gonzalez was fined $1,500 and suspended for three games. He also has appealed and has not heard a response, but he expects the suspension to be knocked down one game and the fine to be reduced, based on what happened with Gregg and Ortiz.
Gonzalez said the past incidents were "water under the bridge" but added that the Orioles won't be pushed around.
"I don't think anyone likes being bullied, and in a way, we felt that way," he said. "It was one of those things where you just had to do what you had to do."
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said before Monday's game that his team had to concentrate on the Red Sox and not past skirmishes.
"Tim Wakefield and the Boston Red Sox are enough challenge as it is to not need to create something like that," Showalter said. "You deal with situations as they come."
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