MLB suspends Victorino, no suspension for Giants

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MLB suspends Victorino, no suspension for Giants

Aug. 8f, 2011
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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Philadelphia Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino is appealing a three-game suspension imposed Monday for his part in a weekend brawl at San Francisco.A pair of Giants players who expected one-game suspensions only received fines after playing key roles in the benches-clearing brawl between NL division leaders Friday night. Nobody was injured.Major League Baseball also fined Victorino an undisclosed amount. Victorino declined to address the suspension Monday night as the NL East-leading Phillies opened a three-game series at Dodger Stadium.Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco, Giants pitcher Ramon Ramirez and catcher Eli Whiteside were fined as well. Victorino, Ramirez and Whiteside were ejected."Victorino's aggressive actions prolonged the bench-clearing incident between the Clubs," the commissioner's office said in announcing the penalties.Victorino can continue to play until the appeal process is complete.Philadelphia was eliminated by San Francisco in six games last fall in the NL championship series. The Giants went on to win the franchise's first World Series title since moving West in 1958."I thought it was well done," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of MLB's decisions. "And I'm not saying that because we didn't have any suspensions. It was pretty clean out there."The trouble broke out Friday night in the sixth inning after Ramirez hit Victorino in the lower back with a pitch, moments after Jimmy Rollins stole second with a six-run lead - a move Giants outfielder Carlos Beltran criticized afterward. Victorino began walking toward the mound as the benches cleared. Victorino later pushed plate umpire Mike Muchlinski trying to get back into the fracas.Victorino was held back by Giants bench coach Ron Wotus and Phillies hitting coach Greg Gross, then also escaped the grasp of manager Charlie Manuel. Polanco said afterward he was trying to protect Victorino.Victorino and Manuel thought Ramirez plunked the center fielder on purpose, something Ramirez denied Monday in his first comments about the brawl. He did expect to receive a one-game suspension.Whiteside tackled Polanco in the skirmish after Polanco came charging in from second base."They were the ones that provoked it," Manuel said Monday. "Vic probably felt like he had to stand up for himself. Usually when you get into things like that on the field, and you get into a little pushing and fighting, whatever you want to call it, somebody gets suspended. And when you get one of your front-line players suspended, it hurts the team or course because of the games they miss. But it's good that it was just one guy."Neither Ramirez nor Whiteside knew the amount of their fines.Ramirez said he figured he would be suspended for at least one game based on the perception that he had plunked Victorino on purpose."I didn't try to hit him," Ramirez said before the Giants opened a three-game series against the Pirates. "It's a surprise (not to be fined). I was waiting for a suspension. They thought it was on purpose but it wasn't. Now, it's important to focus on pitching. I want to help the team win games."Whiteside, a former football player, said he has long been taught to protect the pitcher - and that's all he had in mind when he saw Polanco coming and began bouncing around to defend Ramirez."That was my intention, to go protect Ramon," Whiteside said. "I'm happy with the outcome. A lot of guys are getting suspended for things like that. I thought I might get a game. I'm happy not to miss any time. I felt like I didn't take a swing at anybody. I didn't throw any punches."

A's spring training Day 41: Maxwell's two-HR day can't stave off bad news

A's spring training Day 41: Maxwell's two-HR day can't stave off bad news

PHOENIX — Bruce Maxwell homered twice against the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday, and his reward was a demotion to the minors.

Awkward timing, for sure. But the news itself wasn’t much of a shock to the A’s catcher, who knew he was the odd man out in a three-man roster battle. The A’s like the left-right platoon behind the plate. Stephen Vogt, who like Maxwell hits left-handed, wasn’t going anywhere. Josh Phegley is back healthy after knee surgery and has the advantage of being a right-handed hitter.

“I mean, I could have come out here and hit 1.000 and I probably still would have been in the same situation,” Maxwell said. “I can’t really do much about it. I try not to worry about it. At the end of the day everybody wants to play in the big leagues, but if the opportunity is not there you can’t stress about it.”

Manager Bob Melvin gave Maxwell the news in the dugout after he exited Oakland’s 11-1 victory, and Melvin certainly couldn’t give Maxwell a justifiable reason for the demotion except that the roster math doesn’t add up.

“Great day to have to do that,” Melvin said sarcastically. “But, he’ll be here at some point. We saw his progression last year, he did a great job for us. There’s nothing he did to suggest he needed to be sent down. It’s just a numbers game for him right now.”

The A’s batted around in a five-run third, knocking Brewers starter Matt Garza from the game after he recorded just seven outs. They tacked on four more in the fourth, with Maxwell going deep to left-center for a two-run homer off Jhan Marinez. In the sixth, he hit a solo shot off Corey Knebel to right-center and also added a run-scoring single to complete his four-RBI day.

Melvin has spoken often of the improving power shown by the 26-year-old Maxwell, who hit .283 with a homer and 14 RBI in 33 games with Oakland last season in his first major league call-up.

“If you look at the power numbers over the years, he’s getting better and better,” Melvin said. “He’s got the chance to be a 20-home run guy in the big leagues.”

NOTEWORTHY: Jharel Cotton held Milwaukee to just a run on four hits over 5 2/3 innings. He bounced back from a wobbly start against Seattle in which he walked five. On Sunday, his toughest challenge was staying loose as the A’s offense put up two time-consuming rallies. Twice, Cotton had to play catch while his teammates paraded around the bases.

But it sure didn’t affect him, as he struck out seven and walked one in his second-to-last spring training start.

“This one, I was more on the attack, using my fastball more so I can set up my changeup and off-speed pitches,” Cotton said. “I know everybody raves about the changeup, but I need my fastball to be there so I can throw that pitch off the fastball.”

He had an entertaining ongoing battle with six-time All-Star Ryan Braun. He struck out Braun on a cutter in the first, gave up a homer to left in the fourth, then battled back from a 3-0 count to get Braun swinging through a fastball in the sixth.

“I got him twice, he got me once,” Cotton said. “I think I won that battle today.”

HEALTH UPDATE: Daniel Mengden, who has missed all of spring with a broken right foot, is scheduled to get his walking boot removed Monday. Mengden said he’ll stay in Arizona for anywhere from two to four weeks, taking part in extended spring training. The good news for the right-hander: He’s been able to play catch while wearing the boot, so that’s a bit of a head-start for him once he gets full mobility with his foot. There’s no timetable yet for his return.

ODDS AND ENDS: The A’s knocked out 16 hits and recorded double-digit runs for the fifth time this spring. They improved to 16-12. … Alejandro De Aza, fighting for an outfield roster spot, went 2-for-3 with an RBI to raise his average to .300. … With few regulars making the trip to Maryvale Baseball Park, second baseman Max Schrock came over from minor league camp and once again made an impact, going 3-for-5 with two doubles and two RBI. … John Axford threw a scoreless inning of relief. Frankie Montas handled the final two innings, allowing one hit with two strikeouts and a walk. The hard-throwing prospect is a candidate for the bullpen as a multi-inning guy.

Couture's father: Sharks center dealing with 'ugly injury' after puck to mouth

Couture's father: Sharks center dealing with 'ugly injury' after puck to mouth

The Sharks dropped their sixth straight game Saturday in Nashville against the Predators. To make matters worse, center Logan Couture left the ice to an ugly scene after taking a puck straight to the mouth. 

Directly after the game, Couture was taken to a local Nashville hospital. On Sunday, his father Chet could not provide specific details but called what his son is going through "an ugly injury sadly." 

Couture was set up just outside the crease when a Brent Burns point shot late in the second period hit a stick before squarely smacking into the 27-year-old’s mouth. Replays showed Couture appeared to lose at least one tooth, and he quickly skated to the dressing room under his own power with just 14 seconds before the intermission.

"You can't replace him, so it would be really tough,” Patrick Marleau said after Saturday's loss. “But if that is the case, then guys are going to have to pull up the slack. Definitely we hope he's back sooner.”

Couture flew back with the team Sunday morning, but Insider Kevin Kurz is hearing the injury is certainly a bad one.