Upon learning that Major League Baseball had suspended Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster Tuesday for five games, CC Sabathia said the punishment for "intentionally throwing at and hitting'' Alex Rodriguez with a pitch Sunday night should have been harsher.
"I thought he at least should miss a start and he's not going to do that, so I don't think it does anything,'' Sabathia said after the Yankees' 8-4 win over the Blue Jays in the first game of a day-night doubleheader. "You don't throw at a guy four times. He violated every code in every way.''
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Dempster will not appeal the suspension, which began Tuesday. He was scheduled to pitch Saturday against the Dodgers but will be eligible to return next Tuesday. With the Red Sox scheduled to have off days Thursday and Monday, Dempster will not have to miss a start, which annoyed Sabathia and baffled Joe Girardi. Rodriguez did not talk with reporters after either of Tuesday's's games.
"It doesn't always make sense,'' Girardi said. "If you suspend a position player three games, he misses three games. You could suspend a pitcher five games, even six games, and he might not miss a start if the off days come into play. So that's why I think everything has to be taken into account when you make a suspension.''
MLB said that because Dempster's transgression happened on the field, his suspension is with pay. The Associated Press cited a source who said Dempster was fined $2,500, and that Girardi was fined $5,000 because of his argument with plate umpire Brian O'Nora.
Girardi feared it would be "open season'' on A-Rod if MLB had not suspended Dempster. He threw once behind A-Rod's knees and twice more inside during the second inning at Fenway Park. The righthander's 3-and-0 pitch struck Rodriguez's left elbow pad.
Girardi ran onto the field, screaming at plate umpire Brian O'Nora for not ejecting Dempster. Caught up in emotion, the manager nearly accidentally hit O'Nora while throwing his arms in the air. Girardi, who was tossed from the game for his outburst, said it was the angriest he has ever been on a baseball field.
Girardi vehemently supported Rodriguez, whose lawyers are in a battle with the Yankees' front office. Rodriguez was suspended for 211 games on Aug. 5 for violating baseball's drug and labor agreements but is playing while he appeals. Members of the Red Sox, notably pitcher John Lackey, spoke out against Rodriguez's being able to play.
"I don't care what the hitter has done or allegedly done,'' Girardi said. "I'll defend that person until I am blue in the face.''
Dempster and Red Sox manager John Farrell said there was no intent or motive behind hitting Rodriguez.
The Yankees will host the Red Sox Sept. 5. Girardi didn't say whether the Yankees would retaliate. Instead, with a saddened expression, he discussed how daunting being hit with a pitch can be.
"That baseball is a weapon,'' Girardi said. "It's not a tennis ball, where it's soft. It's a weapon and it can do a lot of damage to someone's life and that's why I was so upset by it. You just can't start throwing baseballs at someone. It's scary.''