Making a terse statement about what he considered "a dangerous act," American League president Gene Budig yesterday suspended New York Yankees reliever Mike Stanton for five games and imposed a $1,000 fine for hitting the Orioles' Eric Davis with a pitch Monday night.
The suspension is scheduled to begin June 24. However, Stanton filed an immediate appeal through the players association that will be heard next week.
Stanton said he was "shocked" by Budig's ruling and had not even considered the possibility of a suspension until Tuesday morning.
Relying on plate umpire John Hirschbeck's incident report that described the pitch as intentional, Budig said such incidents "will continue to be dealt with in a harsh and deserved manner."
"I think the president is trying to make a statement that this type of stuff isn't going to be warranted in his league," Stanton said. "Whether the five games stick, get reduced or nullified altogether, it won't work because there's not a whole lot of intellectual process that goes through a situation when a pitcher does hit a guy. You can't take emotions out of baseball."
Budig said he took into account the teams' May 19 brawl in New York. That incident was precipitated when Orioles reliever Armando Benitez hit Tino Martinez immediately after surrendering a home run to Bernie Williams. On Monday night, Stanton hit Davis on the next pitch after Rafael Palmeiro homered in the seventh inning.
"It's very clear," Budig said. "I was appalled by the dangerous act by Mike Stanton, especially in light of the brawl."
Yankees manager Joe Torre was not surprised at the AL president's ruling but admitted disappointment. He thought better "feel" for the situation could have been exercised by everyone from Hirschbeck to Budig.
"Should he have been suspended? I understand why. You're not going to fight that. But you have to have a feel for what's happening," Torre said.
Stanton, criticized earlier in his career for his unwillingness to pitch inside, reiterated his innocence yesterday and drew a distinction between his actions and those of Benitez four weeks ago.
"There has never been a history between me and Eric Davis. There had been a history between Benitez and Tino. Also, I've never had a reputation for throwing at people. He does," Stanton said.
Apparently Stanton received a lesser ban than Benitez because he did not gesture to the opposing dugout, as Benitez did in New York.
Orioles manager Ray Miller repeatedly lobbied for Stanton to receive the same eight-game penalty as Benitez and wondered if "justice was as swift and severe in Maryland as it is in New York."
Miller defended Benitez's part in the earlier incident, which also brought him a $2,000 fine. The manager suggested that Benitez's upbringing in the Dominican Republic factored into his dropping his glove and beckoning to the Yankees' Darryl Strawberry to come out for a fight.
"I'd like to say I'm disappointed, but in reading Mr. Budig's statement, I understand his thinking," Miller said.
"My argument was, in the Dominican Republic, if someone runs at you and you run, you're marked a coward for life. Armando's actions, opening his arms to say, 'Come on,' was pretty much the manly thing to do when someone is charging you. But in that case, I can understand how [Budig] said he could have incited the ballclub and that's why the difference in suspensions."
Stanton said: "I think Ray Miller has to say those things. He lobbied for it. I don't know if he's happy with this or not."
Benitez, who apologized for his actions in New York without admitting guilt, offered no opinion about Stanton's suspension. "I don't have to care about this. I just have to care about myself. I don't care if it's one game or no games. For me, it's fine," Benitez said.
Davis and Stanton spoke by phone Monday and face-to-face Tuesday. Davis remained unconvinced that he was hit intentionally.
"The scenario just didn't seem right to get hit between the numbers after a guy hits a home run," Davis said. "Did he hit me on purpose? Only he can answer that."
Pub Date: 6/18/98