Red Sox

Eight ejected from nasty Yankees-Tigers game

tigers_yankees_brawl_082417.jpg

Eight ejected from nasty Yankees-Tigers game

DETROIT -- Once slugger Miguel Cabrera wrestled Yankees catcher Austin Romine to the ground at home plate, an afternoon game at Comerica Park collapsed into total chaos.

All the testiness that had been building between the Detroit Tigers and New York finally boiled over. The toll of Thursday's fury - three bench-clearing altercations, eight ejections, one beaning and a lot of angry words.

"I'm sure there are going to be suspensions on both sides," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said after a 10-6 loss.

The winning and losing pitchers - Detroit's Alex Wilson (2-4) and New York's Dellin Betances (3-5) - were among those tossed. So were Girardi and Tigers manager Brad Ausmus.

At one point, the ill will carried over to the Detroit dugout, where star pitcher Justin Verlander and teammate Victor Martinez appeared to get into some sort of dispute.

"I was actually on the field, so I haven't seen it and haven't talked to them about it," Ausmus said. "I'm aware of it, but I couldn't tell you what it was about."

Perhaps the only positive thing: This was the final time the Yankees and Tigers were scheduled to play this season.

James McCann and Justin Upton homered for Detroit, and Gary Sanchez went deep for the Yankees, but that all became secondary on a day when the umpires had their hands full trying to maintain order. Major League Baseball now figures to be busy, too, sorting out likely penalties that could especially hurt the playoff-contending Yankees.

Girardi contended an early warning would've cut off the trouble before it escalated. He blamed the umps for letting things go wild, saying, "Just a very poor job on their part."

Much later, Betances was ejected after he hit McCann in the helmet. Betances seemed to be indicating he had thrown a breaking ball instead of a fastball, and wound up shouting at the Tigers and the umps.

"I threw him out and that was to keep control of the game," umpire crew chief Dana DeMuth said. "And the reason why it took a minute or so, was because I wanted to get the players apart. Once I got Detroit going to their dugout and New York going to their dugout, then I informed him that he was ran."

"It wasn't necessarily of him intentionally beaning the batter, but to keep control of the situation, I deemed it necessary that he went," he said.

Although Cabrera vs. Romine was the peak of the hostilities, McCann's beaning was the most frightening.

"You don't want to see people hit in the head. You don't want to see fighting on the field," Cabrera said. "But people have to understand we're human."

The problems between these teams began well before Tommy Kahnle threw behind Cabrera in the sixth inning. Last month, they had a game at Yankee Stadium in which four batters were hit.

This time, Michael Fulmer hit Sanchez with a pitch in the fifth, an inning after Sanchez had homered for the fourth time in this three-game series.

"If you can't see that Fulmer clearly hit Sanchez on purpose, there's something wrong," Girardi said.

Fulmer looked like he might be hurt after throwing that pitch, and he was checked by the trainer before staying in the game. He said he had no intention of hitting Sanchez.

"I respect Gary Sanchez, I really do," said Fulmer, who beat out Sanchez for last year's American League Rookie of the Year award. "I would never throw at anybody that hit a homer off of me, just because they hit a home run."

Kahnle was ejected after his pitch behind Cabrera, and Girardi was tossed after he came out to argue.

"When they throw at me, it was OK. ... I was cool with that," Cabrera said. "When they started arguing with the umpire, I said to Romine, `Calm down.'"

The game was finally about to resume when Cabrera stepped toward Romine, and the New York catcher took off his mask. Cabrera gave him a two-handed push to the chest.

"He said, `You have a problem with me?' And I said, `This isn't about you,'" said Romine, whose brother Andrew plays for the Tigers. "And then he pushed me. It felt like he wanted a confrontation there and I just tried to defend myself the best I could."

Cabrera appeared to take a couple of swings at Romine, and the two ended up on the ground as players from both teams spilled onto the field. Sanchez later appeared to take a swing at someone at the bottom of the pile.

Cabrera and Romine were ejected, and Romine was so incensed by his dismissal that he threw his mask when he entered the dugout.

An inning later, Betances hit McCann in the helmet with a pitch, causing benches to empty again, and Betances and bench coach Rob Thompson were tossed. Betances said he didn't hit McCann on purpose, and McCann seemed to agree afterward.

"I don't think it was intentional," McCann said. "At that point in the game, Miggy was thrown at, Sanchez had been hit, and at least in my mind, the retaliation was over. I don't think that he was trying to hit me on purpose."

Wilson and Ausmus were ejected in the eighth after Wilson hit Todd Frazier around the thigh with a pitch. The benches cleared for a third time.

"With me hitting a guy in the leg, it's what I have to do and that's what I did," Wilson said. "Fortunately for me I know where my pitches are going, and I hit a guy in the leg today to take care of my teammates and protect them."

Nunez returns to Red Sox on one-year deal

Nunez returns to Red Sox on one-year deal

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Eduardo Nunez is back in the fold on a one-year deal with a player option for 2019.

The infielder doesn’t give the Sox the punch of J.D. Martinez, who remains a free agent. But he does give the Sox some depth and a veteran presence after a strong performance with Boston last season.

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Nunez makes $4 million this season, and can make $4 million in 2019 with a $2 million buyout — so he’s guaranteed to make at least $6 million if he tests free agency after 2018. 

But he can make up to $10 million over the two seasons if he sticks around for 2019. Nunez can make another $2 million in 2019: he can earn up to $1 million based on plate appearances in 2018, and another $1 million based on 2019 performance bonuses.

The deal is structured so that Nunez has something of a safety net if he doesn’t have a great year in 2018, but also provides him some freedom to explore the market if he does. The Red Sox don’t appear to have a full-time job available for Nunez, who is good enough to play everyday for some team, but he should be used plenty while Dustin Pedroia is out. His usage would only increase if the Sox don’t sign Martinez or another bat to DH.

Nunez is expected to be around JetBlue Park on Sunday. The Globe reported he was on hand Saturday.

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Pedroia, healing well, says he could have handled 2017 differently

Pedroia, healing well, says he could have handled 2017 differently

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Often, Dustin Pedroia is not one to expound on his feelings publicly. His interviews with media can be amusing and witty, but they also can be terse. In 2017, they tended toward the latter. 

A welcome-to-spring session with reporters on Saturday brought out 20 minutes of another side of Pedroia, one that seemed almost eager to expound. He was cast in a poor light last season, the year's troubles started to compound early.

Pedroia said Saturday the knee he had repaired in the offseason had been bothering him since April. He called the surgery “the best decision I could have made.” 

“My knee doesn’t hurt,” Pedroia said. “Last year, waking up and walking around was painful. It’s not fun to live your life like that. Having the surgery, I could tell immediately that I was feeling better. Not one time did I have any pain in the entire process. Now, it’s just building strength and getting back to being athletic and things like that and your body picks that up quick.”

Pedroia, 34, didn’t share a timetable. The initial expectation, at the point Pedroia went for the surgery, was that he would be out until at least May.

He shared how he thinks the Red Sox need greater leadership as a group, not just from one individual.

"I’ve thought a lot about this, you know and I’m thinking, man, you know, you guys write all these stories about how we don’t have enough leadership and all this stuff,” Pedroia said. “I’m like, thinking about it, I’m like, when did the Red Sox start getting successful? From 2002 or whatever on. You know, they had Tek [Jason Varitek]. But not only did they have Tek, but they had David [Ortiz], they had Trot Nixon, they had Johnny Damon. There was a ton of core players that were leaders. 

“And then you look at the next championship they won, they had David, Tek, Mike Lowell, Alex [Cora]. There’s multiple leaders. And then ’13, there’s multiple leaders. So I think our core group, our guys that [are young], it’s my responsibility, I need them and they need me and we all have to work together. Because it’s not one leader. And everybody always says that, it’s not one guy in baseball. 

“We have to go be together and know that. I know David’s gone, but you know when Tek was done, we were okay. Because he built that into David, and David’s built that into me to where I got to do a better job of finding a way to get everybody to realize that it’s not one guy, it’s everybody. And that’s — after thinking about it — that’s what it is."

There was more. A lot more. The team, Pedroia said, became too results-oriented in the short term last year.

“It was more ‘Hey, what are our results today? We’ve got to do good today,’” Pedroia said. “‘Bogey’s got to get four hits today. Mookie’s got to live up to huge expectations,’ instead of being who you are, and that’s especially in this environment that’s how you have to be. You have to understand you’re going to be bad and you’re going to be great.”

Twenty minutes in, the second-to-last question was a brief return to last year’s form. Terse.

Pedroia was asked whether there was a team discussion about the handling of the Manny Machado and Dennis Eckersley incidents.

"Yeah, we talked about those things,” Pedroia said, matter of factly. 

It was by far the shortest answer he gave Saturday and stood out for that reason.

Pedroia and everyone else listening knew well that the question, which he did technically answer, was meant to provide some level of insight into those discussions. 

The conclusion: last year still isn’t easy to talk about. Which may be a positive sign. Consider: Pedroia’s reputation as a team leader was questioned. A prideful person who believes in his work, who cares about his standing and his reputation, would be made uncomfortable by last year’s proceedings.

A follow-up question came, and it was something of a breakpoint. Did those discussions resolve the issues quickly, was anything lingering?

He could have given a similar yes-no answer again. 

He didn’t.

“Yeah, no, I mean, I think as a team, no, we were together all the time. You know, those things happen,” Pedroia said. “I mean it’s baseball. I think when you sit back and look at it. Could it have been handled differently? Without question. I mean, 100 percent. It’s like everything in life. You make mistakes and then you don’t make mistakes. So, you know you learn from it, you move forward, you understand if you’re in another situation like that, if you want to do something different, do something different. And that’s what we all took out of it.”

On Saturday, he did something different.

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