Tavarez suspended for 10 days

Tavarez suspended for 10 days

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox reliever Julian Tavarez, who hit Devil Rays outfielder Joey Gathright twice in the head on Monday, received his punishment from Major League Baseball on Thursday. The right-hander was handed a 10-day suspension, which is slated to begin on April 3, when the Red Sox open their season on the road against the Rangers.

Tavarez was also fined an undisclosed amount. According to the release issued by Major League Baseball, Tavarez received the discipline for "violent and unsportsmanlike actions."

Because the Red Sox have two off-days in the first week of the season, Tavarez would miss eight games.

However, Tavarez might decide to appeal. When word of the suspension came out, Red Sox manager Terry Francona had yet to speak with Tavarez, who had already left the ballpark.

Francona said he would confer with Tavarez about the matter on Friday.

This is the sixth time Tavarez has been suspended by Major League Baseball during his career. Francona wonders if his previous history played a role in the punishment.

"It sure seems like it," Francona said. "That's a pretty stiff penalty."

The incident occurred in the top of the eighth inning of Monday's game. At the end of a rundown play, Tavarez was covering the plate. As Gathright came sliding in, Tavarez tagged him out and inadvertently stepped on the outfielder's right forearm.

The speedy Gathright seemed to have an issue with how aggressively Tavarez was covering the plate with his left leg, and he gave the pitcher a slight nudge as he slid.

Irked by this, Tavarez landed a glancing blow to Gathright's chin area. He followed up with a hit to the top of the forehead.

Devil Rays infielder Greg Norton then piledrived Tavarez to the ground and both benches emptied. At this time, the Devil Rays haven't received any punishment for the incident.

Should the Devil Rays also get some discipline?

"I don't know. I really don't know," said Francona. "I don't think it matters what I say. I don't think it has in the past. I don't think it will in the future."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.