Kansas City Royals

More drama as Tim Anderson gets hit by pitch in first plate appearance vs. Royals since benches-clearing incident

More drama as Tim Anderson gets hit by pitch in first plate appearance vs. Royals since benches-clearing incident

The drama — intentional or not — between Tim Anderson and the Kansas City Royals won’t slow down.

It was on April 13 against these Royals that Anderson got thrust into baseball’s national spotlight, flipping his bat in celebration of a home run, then hit by a pitch in his next plate appearance to set off a benches-clearing incident and stir up the conversation about the game’s old- and new-school attitudes. There was also Anderson’s use of a racially charged word that earned him a one-game suspension.

Well, Anderson didn’t get to see the Royals much during the first two games of this week’s series on the South Side, limited to one pinch-running appearance while nursing a wrist injury. But he was back in the lineup Wednesday night and was almost immediately greeted with a rude welcome from the visitors.

First, a little more backstory. In the top half of the second inning, Reynaldo Lopez lost control of a 95 mph fastball that nearly hit Royals third baseman Hunter Dozier right in the face. Players have been hit in the face before, but this had the looks of one of those “it could have killed him” pitches, even if that might be a tad hyperbolic. Bottom line: It was really scary. Thank goodness Dozier was able to get out of the way.

Well, in the bottom half of the inning, Royals pitcher Glenn Sparkman faced a batter — Eloy Jimenez led off the inning with a single — before his own pitch ended up near the head of an opposing batter. That batter was Anderson, in his first plate appearance against the Royals since April 13.

Sparkman’s 86 mph changeup, the second pitch of the plate appearance, hit the bill of Anderson’s helmet, and the pitcher was instantly ejected by the home-plate umpire, Mark Carlson, who you’d figure had knowledge of the last time Anderson saw the Royals.

Was it retaliation for the pitch to Dozier? Was it the next episode in the ongoing drama between the Royals and Anderson? Or did it simply get away from him? That we don’t know.

It wasn’t the kind of pitch you usually see in an intentional plunking, the kind of pitch that Brad Keller hit Anderson with back in April, if that helps your thinking. Even if the Royals weren’t happy with that Lopez fastball nearly hitting Dozier, it’d be some kind of jump to try to hit someone in the head. Even the old-school thinkers likely aren’t warm to that idea.

Regardless of intent, the pitch did hit Anderson and almost hit him in the head. It’s not likely to cool the feelings between the two sides — or among the White Sox fan base — and it is the latest chapter in a saga that stretches back to last season.

Stay tuned.

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White Sox and Royals will have to wait until tomorrow after rain soaks Guaranteed Rate Field and forces suspension

White Sox and Royals will have to wait until tomorrow after rain soaks Guaranteed Rate Field and forces suspension

If you thought Yolmer Sanchez's three-hour at-bat was long, wait till you see when Monday's game might end.

An absolutely drenched Guaranteed Rate Field couldn't handle the resumption of play after a combined four hours of rain delays on Memorial Day, forcing a suspension of Monday's game between the White Sox and Royals. Things will be picked up in the bottom of the fifth inning Monday at 4:40 p.m. Tuesday's game, originally scheduled to begin at 7:10 p.m., will start approximately half an hour after the suspended game is finished, though that game will start no earlier than 6:40 p.m.

All these logistics are necessary after storms swept through the Chicago area Monday afternoon. Your holiday barbecue wasn't the only thing washed out.

The rains came in the second inning and only sporadically held up. The White Sox and Royals kept playing through at times pouring rain, with things paused for the first time during Sanchez's at-bat in the bottom of the fifth. That delay lasted roughly three hours as they waited for a window, which ended up being so brief, it's hard to believe how someone thought a significant amount of baseball could be played in such a span. But with only two outs to get until the game became official — and therefore potentially called early — they gave it a shot.

But the about five minutes during which play was resumed did feature Sanchez tying the game with an RBI single to right field, making a called game impossible. James McCann scored from second to make it a 1-all game. Then, a few pitches later, umpires kicked everyone off the field again as it started raining harder than ever. The outcome of Ryan Cordell's two-out plate appearance will have to wait another day.

The condition of the field ended up being the deciding factor in the decision to push the rest of this one to Tuesday, as the infield took a large amount of water, both while play was allowed to continue before the first delay and after the game was resumed. Members of Roger Bossard's grounds crew worked their behinds off, and they kept doing so after the game was suspended, with the crew scraping wet dirt off the swamp-like infield as it began to get the field ready for Tuesday.

"The field's got a lot of water on it right now, especially after the last dousing," manager Rick Renteria said after the game was suspended. "It had a lot of water on it, obviously, accumulating during the whole ballgame. I'm sure he's going to have his hands full getting ready for tomorrow."

Ivan Nova gave up one run to the Royals in his five innings of work, but he won't be heading back out for the sixth Tuesday. Renteria said that he'll cover the remainder of the game with his bullpen, as if Nova had to exit after five innings in a normal game.

The White Sox announced that fans with game tickets dated May 28 will be allowed to enter the ballpark to see both the conclusion of the suspended game and the regularly scheduled contest. While tickets dated for May 27 will not be accepted. The gates to the ballpark will open at 3:40 p.m., and parking lots will open at 3 p.m. The team added that fans with tickets dated May 27 can apply those values to any future regular-season White Sox home game, including Tuesday.

NBC Sports Chicago will have coverage of both the remainder of the suspended game and the entirety of the originally scheduled contest Tuesday.

So, yes, Sanchez's at-bat lasted three hours. But that will pale in comparison to a game that could last more than 28 hours.

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Joe Maddon weighs in on the bat-flip debate


Joe Maddon weighs in on the bat-flip debate

You won't be finding Joe Maddon among Tim Anderson's defenders, but he's also not using this week's incident as a teaching moment for his players.

Maddon is still under the belief that it's better not to create a list of rules in the clubhouse to govern the players, but he also isn't into the whole show of celebration, of which bat-flips are at the forefront.

When Anderson flipped his bat on a home run Wednesday against the Royals, Kansas City pitcher Brad Keller responded by drilling Anderson the next time up. That resulted in a benches — and bullpens — clearing incident and then on Friday afternoon, both Anderson and Keller were hit with suspensions (Anderson was suspended for using a racial slur in his response to Keller). 

This is just the latest — and maybe one of the most charged — examples of the whole bat-flip/unwritten rules ordeal. Baseball's long tradition of punishing players for "showing up" a pitcher is alive and strong, and that's true even in the younger generation (Keller is only 23 years old). 

At 65, Maddon has been in the game of baseball since decades before Keller was even born, but he subscribes to a similar line of thinking as the Royals right-hander.

"I know my first year [with Cubs in 2015], I got upset at Junior Lake down in Miami [for flipping his bat]," Maddon said. "At that time, my being upset was about trying to flip the culture here — being more professional-looking and act like you're gonna do it again. That was my whole point about that.

"For me, I would prefer our guys didn't do that. I would prefer that the younger group right now doesn't need to see demonstrations like that in order to feel like they can watch baseball or that baseball is more interesting because somebody bat-flips really well and I kinda dig it and if I watch, I might see a bat-flip. 

"I would prefer kids watch baseball because it's a very interesting game, it's intellectually stimulating and when it's played properly, it's never too long. I prefer kids learn that method as opposed to become enamored with our game based on histrionics. I really would prefer that, but it seems to be that we are catering to that a bit.

"...When somebody choose to [bat-flip] and somebody gets hit in the butt because of it, that's what you're looking at. Regardless if you're old or new school, if you're a pitcher, I think you're gonna be offended by that. Act like you're gonna do it again would be the method that I would prefer with our guys. I want to believe we're not gonna do that, but it may happen here, too. And then we're just gonna have to wait and see how the other team reacts."

Though Maddon is not a fan of bat-flips and excessive celebration for big moments, he has not coached his players into avoiding such moments. 

That's why you still see Javy Baez out there being his typical flashy self and David Bote with an epic bat-flip on his walk-off grand slam (though that was obviously a much bigger moment than a run-of-the-mill fourth-inning homer) and Pedro Strop nearly dislocating his shoulder with some aggressive fist-pumps after nailing down a big out late in games.

But if anything does get out of line, Maddon prefers the policing comes from the players within the Cubs clubhouse or from the other team. Think back to last year when Baez tossed his bat in frustration after a pop-out against the Pirates at Wrigley Field and Strop pulled Baez aside to let him know "we don't do that here."

"I think the tried-and-true method of policing the group — whether it's the team policing itself or the industry and players doing the same thing," Maddon said. "I'd be curious to see if [Anderson] ever does that again, based on the result the other day." 

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