Four Angels ejected against Red Sox
Beckett's high-and-tight pitch to Abreu starts incident
ANAHEIM -- Once again, no surprise here, the Angels and Red Sox agreed to disagree.
At issue during and after Sunday's 5-4 victory by the Angels at Angel Stadium was Boston starter Josh Beckett's intent when he hurled a ball in the direction of Bobby Abreu's head after timeout had been called in the first inning with Chone Figgins at second base and one out.
"I don't know," Abreu said when asked if he felt Beckett was intentionally trying to injure him. "The umpire called time, I called time, too. For some reason -- I don't know if he heard it or not -- he threw the ball at my head. It doesn't look good.
"If I wasn't paying attention, I would have gotten hit in the head. That's not right. It was very close."
How close? Abreu held a hand about six inches from his face.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia was ejected along with center fielder Torii Hunter, reliever Justin Speier and hitting coach Mickey Hatcher. No Red Sox personnel was dismissed.
"That was as flagrant as anything I've seen in this game," Scioscia said, adding he heard no "remorse" expressed by Beckett during the aftermath. "I'm not going to talk about on-the-field conversations, but that was certainly something that there was no need for. I don't think it was handled very well by the umpires."
Beckett, who had yielded a leadoff single and steal to Figgins, claimed he meant no harm to Abreu, a familiar figure to the big right-hander from the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry.
"I know Bobby Abreu," Beckett said. "He knows I'm not trying to hit him in the head. Obviously, there's a lot of emotion in this series. Not only facing us, but the tragedy."
Beckett was referring to the death early Thursday morning of young Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart, killed along with two companions, with another seriously injured, in an accident in nearby Fullerton.
This suggestion clearly infuriated Hunter, who was tossed by crew chief Joe West, working at second base.
"Don't use Nick," Hunter said of the late Adenhart. "I don't know if everybody has eyes on us, [thinking] we're not emotionally stable, but that was blatant. We'd have been out there no matter what.
"A lot of things were said out there, not only by the Red Sox. I'll leave it at that. I was trying to hold guys back and calm things down, and something was said that was outrageous. I freaking lost it."
Hunter wouldn't disclose what set him off, but it appeared that West was moving toward him when the center fielder made a gesture and was ejected.
Hatcher and Speier were also visibly upset -- especially after it appeared to have blown over, only to start up a second time when Beckett had words with Scioscia between the mound and third-base line.
"I was livid, because you don't do that in this game," Speier said. "The fact is, [catcher Jason] Varitek was set up low and away and he threw the ball at Abreu's head.
"Here's a guy who obviously made a big mistake and threw at Abreu's head, then he has the gall to charge Abreu and start talking smack to Abreu and our manager. He made three mistakes."
Scioscia, who called for the American League to investigate the incident, wouldn't discuss his conversation with Beckett.
"We were told by Joe West the ball wasn't close to Bobby," Scioscia said. "That's obviously a miscalculation by Joe."
West claimed the disproportionate amount of ejections fell on the Angels because they "were the aggressors" in the incident, adding that he didn't believe Beckett was throwing at Abreu.
"[Beckett] took too long delivering the ball, so Abreu called time, which is normal," West said. "Then Beckett, in the middle of throwing the ball, threw the ball. [He] should throw the ball, rather than trying to stop and maybe risk an injury."
This supported Beckett's version of events.
"I was already halfway through my delivery," he said. "I'm not going to stop there and possibly hurt myself. It could have gone anywhere.
"I've never hit anybody in the head. It's not like it's on my list of [stuff] to get done. People can think what they want to think."
According to Boston manager Terry Francona, "We're holding the runner. It's hard. There's no intent there. I know where it ended up. There's no intent."
West defended his belief that Beckett was not trying to harm Abreu.
"Did he throw it up and in?" the umpire said. "Yeah. Do we believe he threw it at Abreu? No. Would we have warned him had both benches not emptied? Probably not. But because both benches emptied, we did issue a warning.
"Mike [Scioscia] kept arguing that he wanted something done. I said, 'Mike, I'm not going to even talk to you until you get your team back in the dugout.' Every time he tried to get his team back in the dugout, he'd look out on the field and see the Red Sox are still there. Well, they were going to stay there, because he was there.
"I said, 'Mike, they're in the field this inning.' Then, he'd try to get them back in the dugout. Then a couple of players got out of line, got aggressive, and they got kicked out. In a situation like that, both sides have to realize that cooler heads need to prevail. There don't need to be any more threats. A free-for-all out there doesn't help anybody at all. All it can do is get somebody hurt."
West said he was "particularly disappointed in a coach getting kicked out, because they have to be responsible for the conduct of their people. They're supposed to be the leaders."
Asked specifically about Hunter, West said: "Well, he got aggressive and threatened to fight the guy [Beckett]. So, that's what happened. That's basically what happened, basically what's going in the report.
"I'm disappointed that, on Easter Sunday, we had to have some bad blood. I feel bad about that. No one likes those kinds of situations. The Angels were the aggressors. That's why they were ejected. They were the aggressors and Beckett was warned."
J.D. Drew, who homered and struck out to end the game, tried to make light of the brouhaha.
"That's baseball," the Boston right fielder said. "It's Easter. I guess the guys just wanted to get together.
"That's going to happen. Tempers are going to flare. I don't think there [were] any intentions by Beckett, but I guess a ball at your head kind of wakes you up a little bit."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.