Alfredo Simon's plunking of Toronto Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista in the fifth inning Sunday not only sent the Orioles reliever and his manager, Buck Showalter, to an early exit, but also will cost them a few more games and some dollars.
Bob Watson, vice president of on-field operations for Major League Baseball, announced Monday that Simon was issued a three-game suspension for "intentionally" throwing a pitch at Bautista and Showalter was banned for one game as a result of the pitcher's actions. Both Orioles were also fined.
Showalter served the suspension in Monday night's series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Bench coach Jeff Datz served as the team's manager while Showalter watched the game from a suite with president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail.
"I think the further [I'm] away from it, the better chance we got," Showalter joked.
Simon appealed his suspension, and it will be held in abeyance until the process is complete. A hearing is tentatively scheduled for Thursday.
"I was surprised," Simon said. "I don't try to hit him. He's a good friend of mine. There's no reason to hit him. His manager thinks [Showalter] brought me in to hit him because I'm the guy that usually throws the eighth inning or ninth inning. But the reason they bring me in is because there was no pitchers left and [Rick] VandenHurk started. I'm the only righty in the bullpen. Whatever happens, I just have to handle it."
Bautista had already been hit in the third inning by VandenHurk, who started for the Orioles. An inning later, Toronto starter Shaun Marcum grazed the Orioles' leading home run hitter, Luke Scott, in the right side, prompting plate umpire Bill Welke to warn both benches.
When Bautista came up in the fifth inning, Simon drilled him with the third pitch of the at-bat after the reliever's second offering was also inside. Simon was immediately ejected, as was Showalter per league rules.
Several Blue Jays, including Marcum, who was also fined for "intentionally" hitting Scott, questioned the timing of Simon's entry into the game. He hadn't pitched before the seventh all season. However, Showalter said his hand was forced because he was trying to lay off several of the Orioles' right-handed relievers, and VandenHurk, one of his long men out of the bullpen, started the game.
"We had one right-handed pitcher down there who already knew that he was going to spell Vandy. I'm going to call down there and say, 'Hey, you're my only guy, and I want you to hit Bautista after throwing two balls'?" Showalter said. "You go through it, but I understand how it looks and I would have been upset about it, too, and I would have done what the umpire did. There's nothing you can do about it. It looked that way. I can tell you that it wasn't intentional, but I understand how you can feel differently. When he hit him, it really put us in a tough spot because we didn't want to use [Matt] Albers or [David] Hernandez or any of the guys that we had to use yesterday."
New flagship station?
With their deal with CBS Radio's 105.7 FM expiring after the season, the Orioles are fielding proposals from outlets looking to become the team's flagship radio station.
WBAL Radio 1090 AM and 105.7 are two stations in negotiations with the club, according to a source familiar with the talks, and they would be the two front-runners because of what they offer, in terms of both signal strength and financial means.
However, no deal is imminent, according to the source. The Orioles have been partners with 105.7 since the 2007 season. WBAL had previously served as their flagship station for 19 years.
Around the horn
Showalter and MacPhail will travel to Sarasota, Fla., on Tuesday to get a look at the renovations going on at the major league spring training facility at Ed Smith Stadium and the minor league complex at Twin Lakes Park. … As of Monday afternoon, Los Angeles Angels medical director Dr. Lewis Yocum hadn't reviewed the results of the magnetic resonance imaging taken on Jake Arrieta's right elbow. The second opinion will help Arrieta decide whether he'll have surgery to remove the bone spur in his elbow. … Showalter said it hasn't been decided whether Chris Tillman or VandenHurk will make a start during the final home series. He said Simon's suspension could play a role in it because the Orioles wouldn't use Tillman out of the bullpen but would use VandenHurk in that role. … Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (left quadriceps strain) sat out his fourth straight game, and Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said it's possible that he'll miss the entire series.