Major League Baseball threw the book at Houston Astros hitting coach Alex Cintron on Tuesday by suspending him 20 games for instigating the bench-clearing melee in their game Sunday against the Oakland Athletics while A's outfielder received a six -game suspension, two officials with direct knowledge told USA TODAY Sports.
The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity since the suspension has yet to be publicly announced.
Cintron, who cursed at Laureano from the bench in the seventh inning, and urged him to come to the bench to fight, received a large fine as well.
MLB was outraged at Cintron’s actions, saying he should be held accountable for triggering the melee, which is completely unacceptable for a coach.
Laureano wasn’t happy with the Astros after he got hit by a pitch pic.twitter.com/ysiXICstKb
Cintron apologized Monday, Astros manager Dusty Baker said in a conference call, but reiterated that none of the pitches that hit Laureano were intentional.
“He was remorseful that the whole thing happened,’’ Baker said, “and we hope it doesn’t happen again.’’
Yet, with the severity of the punishment, MLB made it clear it that has no tolerance for that behavior at any time, particularly in the middle of a pandemic with the sport carefully monitoring safety and health protocols.
“It’s a tough situation,’’ Laureano said Monday. “I reacted that way and it’s a hard time with social distancing during the pandemic. Obviously, I look like a not very smart guy. …
“I’m a man, a freaking man. Whatever happens, I’ll take it. I couldn’t keep my cool. And I should have instead of wasting my time with that guy.”
Oakland A's outfielder Ramon Laureano, left, is restrained by Houston Astros catcher Dustin Garneau as he charges the Astros dugout after being hit by a pitch on Sunday. (Photo: Stan Szeto, USA TODAY Sports)
Laureano was hit three times by pitches in the series, two on Sunday, but did not believe any of the pitches were intentional. Laureano said he had no interest charging the dugout, he said, until Cintron said something derogatory about Laureano’s mother, he said.
“Obviously, I don’t take that lightly,” he said. “I don’t think anyone would take that lightly. …
“It was wrong of him to do that.’’
Said Athletics teammate Frankie Montas: “I saw the replays and I saw one of the coaches kind of challenging him like, ‘Hey come here.’ Hey, you don’t want a coach trying to provoke you. For him to do that … I don’t know.”
Laureano says he’ll always be grateful for Astros catcher Dustin Garneau, his former teammate, who tackled him before he reached Cintron, keeping him on the ground.
“He protected me when we were at the bottom of the pile,’’ Laureano said. “I thank him a lot, because otherwise, things would have been worse for sure.”
This was the second game in which MLB issued discipline for bench-clearing incidents this season. Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly was suspended for eight games July 28 for throwing towards the head of third baseman Alex Bregman and later taunting shortstop Carlos Correa.
Kelly appealed his suspension and had his hearing on Monday.
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