05/07/2002 8:59 pm ET
Castillo, Nixon suspended for actions in Sunday's game
Tampa Bay's Rupe fined
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
OAKLAND, Calif. -- An intensity-filled weekend between the Red Sox and Devil Rays, which featured hit batters, verbal barbs and a thrown bat, did not come without consequence.
Bob Watson, Major League Baseball's vice president of on-field operations, announced Tuesday that Boston right fielder Trot Nixon was suspended four games and fined for intentionally throwing his bat at Devil Rays righty Ryan Rupe on Sunday. Nixon's bat didn't hit Rupe, but was picked up near second base by Tampa Bay's Brent Abernathy.
Red Sox righty Frank Castillo was suspended five games -- which essentially amounts to having his next start pushed back a day -- and also fined for intentionally throwing at the Devil Rays' Randy Winn in the same game.
Nixon and Castillo both appealed their suspensions, meaning they are eligible to play until their cases are reviewed. The Red Sox began a three-game series in Oakland Tuesday night.
The actions of the Boston players were perceived by the league as retaliation against Rupe, who hit Red Sox batters Nomar Garciaparra and Shea Hillenbrand in the first inning of Sunday's game, which ended as a 2-0 victory for Boston.
Hillenbrand had hit a pinch-hit grand slam in the ninth inning of Saturday's Boston win, which highlighted a four-game sweep of the Rays for the Red Sox.
Rupe wasn't suspended, but was fined an undisclosed amount by the league.
Even Rupe was surprised that his punishment was less severe than what was handed to Nixon and Castillo.
"It looks cheap that they got suspended and I didn't if we're going head-to-head," said Rupe. "I don't know why they would get suspended and I wouldn't. I don't even think the game got too out of hand. I smoked two in the first. It's not like I haven't hit somebody all year. If it was in the fourth or fifth and I was throwing [well] that game up until then and then hit them, then, yeah it would look bad. But the first inning I was all over the place."
The Red Sox aren't buying it.
"Rupe's the only one who can answer whether he threw those two pitches at our two batters," said Nixon. "He [didn't walk anyone] and struck out nine. Only he can answer that."
As for Nixon, he claims that his flying bat wasn't intended for anyone.
"All I know is the bat slipped out of my hands. I didn't purposely let it go," Nixon said. "I just took it out of the box that day, I hit with it in BP, it slipped out of my hand [during the game]. I'm not going out there trying to hurt anyone. I don't have to do that to prove anything ... nobody does that intentionally."
"I went out to ask [the umpire]," said Devil Rays manager Hal McRae. "I wanted to know what he thought. He didn't think [it was intentional] so I left. I don't know how they [decided] it [was] -- you'll have to ask Bob Watson."
Efforts to reach Watson were unsuccessful.
What surprised the Red Sox about Castillo's suspension is that no warning was issued until after he hit Winn.
"The only thing I can do is appeal it and that's it," said Castillo, "I'm pretty surprised."
"I find it curious at this point," Red Sox interim general manager Mike Port said. "I would want to know more about what the Commissioner's Office is considering, what they are looking at and so forth. I just haven't had that opportunity to have direct contact with them at this point".
The Red Sox, who are off to the best start in the Major Leagues at 21-7, say they won't let this incident distract them.
"We'll go through the due process of the appeals. Outside of that, we'll keep our focus on what we have to do here in Oakland and Seattle," said Red Sox manager Grady Little. "I'm a little bit upset, but there's not a whole lot we can do. We'll go through the process of appeal, and until then, there's not a lot any of us can say."
Ian Browne covers the Red Sox for MLB.com. Damon Young of MLB.com contributed to this report from St. Petersburg, Fla. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or any of its clubs.