Beckett appeals six-game suspension

Beckett appeals six-game suspension

OAKLAND -- Red Sox ace Josh Beckett expressed shock at receiving a six-game suspension for what Major League Baseball viewed as "intentionally throwing in the head area" of Angels right fielder Bobby Abreu during Sunday's game in Anaheim. In fact, no sooner did Beckett receive the punishment than he appealed it.

Therefore, Beckett was in the dugout for Tuesday night's Red Sox-Athletics contest. Due to the usual length of the appeal process, Beckett is all but certain to make his next scheduled start on Saturday at Fenway Park against the Orioles.

"Yeah, we were pretty shocked," said Beckett, who also received an undisclosed fine. "I think the appeal kind of speaks for everything that we feel."

The umpires who worked Sunday's game -- led by crew chief Joe West -- didn't feel Beckett intentionally threw at Abreu. West said as much publicly and to Beckett, and home-plate umpire Paul Schrieber told Beckett that he felt he handled the situation right.

Bob Watson, vice president of on-field operations for Major League Baseball, viewed the incident differently than the umpiring crew, which did not eject Beckett during the game.

"Surprise," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said when asked his initial reaction. "When we left, and just talking to the umpires during the game and just seeing Joe West's [quotes] yesterday, I didn't expect to even hear from the league. It sounds like they overruled the umpires."

Four Angels -- manager Mike Scioscia, center fielder Torii Hunter, right-hander Justin Speier and coach Mickey Hatcher -- were ejected for excessive arguing. Hatcher was suspended for one game and Hatcher, Scioscia, Hunter and Speier have been fined.

The incident occurred in the bottom of the first inning. With the speedy Chone Figgins on second base, Beckett was holding the runner and, as he was about to deliver his pitch to Abreu, realized that the batter had asked for time. Beckett went through with his pitch anyway, and it sailed in high and tight on Abreu.

Though Scioscia termed the incident "flagrant" after the game, Beckett -- just as he was on Sunday -- remained emphatic that the wildness of the pitch was a result of being caught off-guard in the middle of his windup.

"Every pitcher does that," Beckett said. "I've seen guys that I've played with, they throw balls to the backstop. It's just, it's what we're taught to do. We have to kind of protect ourselves in those situations. Stopping is not a good way to do that. It can end your career. One bad slip or something like that.

"Like I said the other day, that ball could have wound up anywhere. It's unfortunate where it ended up. That's the only reason I'm standing here dealing with all this stuff. We'll just see where it goes from here. Obviously we don't agree. I respect the job that everybody has to do but I don't agree."

Scioscia also said Sunday that he was put off by the fact Beckett showed no remorse for the pitch that got away.

"I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do," Beckett said. "Am I supposed to go give him a hug? I wasn't really in a hugging mood right then. I don't really know what he wanted me to do."

This is the first time Beckett has been suspended in his career, and he has never hit a batter in the head.

Beckett said he has not spoken with Abreu since the incident.

"I've known him for a long time," Beckett said. "Bobby and I have known each other for such a long time, he knows I'm not throwing at his head. It's just an unfortunate deal."

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