McDonald not among those suspended
Jays infielder, Girardi clear air; Carlson out three games
NEW YORK -- A few hours before Wednesday's game in the Bronx, Blue Jays infielder John McDonald and Yankees manager Joe Girardi met on the field to discuss the forgettable bench-clearing incidents of the previous night.
Multiple reports claimed that McDonald took a swing at Girardi while players and coaches pushed and shoved during a chaotic turn of events in the eighth inning of Toronto's 10-4 victory. McDonald wanted to make sure Girardi knew that he did not try to hit the manager, and discipline handed out by Major League Baseball backed up the veteran's story.
Yankees catcher Jorge Posada and Blue Jays reliever Jesse Carlson -- the two players at the heart of Tuesday's altercation -- were each suspended three games, beginning on Wednesday. New York's Shelley Duncan was also suspended three games, but he appealed the penalty. Jays catcher Rod Barajas, Yankees pitcher Edwar Ramirez and Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long were hit with fines.
Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said he was fine with the league's ruling.
"I'm not upset with it. It's got to be done," said Gaston, when asked about Carlson's suspension. "I think it's OK. It's always too many days, but what are you going to do?"
Before being asked any questions during a pregame press conference, Girardi opened by addressing the situation involving McDonald. One television replay appeared to show the Toronto infielder swinging his left hand toward the right side of Girardi's face. McDonald said he was reaching to pull New York's Mark Teixeira away from the pile of players.
Girardi, sporting a cut near his left eye, made it clear that he was not hit by McDonald.
"There's been some reports that John McDonald was the one who gave me the little thing on my eye," Girardi said. "That is totally incorrect. John McDonald is a local kid that is a good man, and from watching the tape, I didn't see John McDonald touch me.
"He actually sought me out today and we talked about it. He was quite disturbed that his name was mentioned in that sort of situation. He's a peacemaker. He's a local kid and I just want to clarify that. I got elbowed accidentally by one of my own players.
"I don't want John McDonald to have a bad name, because this is a good man."
McDonald and Girardi chatted for a few minutes behind the large Yankees logo behind home plate on Wednesday, and the pair shook hands before heading back to their respective clubhouses. McDonald, who is from Connecticut, received a wave of calls and messages after numerous reports indicated he tried to punch the manager.
That is why McDonald wanted to talk to Girardi.
"I wasn't out there to apologize to him for hitting him," McDonald said. "I just wanted him to know that the only reason I was even on the field was to help break people apart, and he knew that. That's what he was doing. That's what everyone was doing."
Gaston never once believed McDonald took a swipe at New York's skipper.
"I know Johnny wasn't in there hitting and swinging at anybody," Gaston said. "He's just like I was, trying to pull people off. You guys know John."
Tuesday's confrontation between the clubs began when Carlson threw a pitch behind Posada's back with one out in the eighth inning. Posada shouted, "You don't want to do that," at the pitcher, and the benches cleared briefly before the umpires calmed the situation. Posada then drew a walk and scored later in the inning.
After scoring, Posada threw an elbow at Carlson, who was backing up the plate. The Yankees catcher was immediately ejected by home-plate umpire Jim Joyce, who called Posada's actions a "cheap shot." Posada and Carlson then ran at each other and the benches cleared a second time, leading to a dog pile in front of New York's dugout.
Earlier in the contest, Blue Jays third baseman Edwin Encarnacion and second baseman Aaron Hill were each hit by pitches. Hill said he did not believe he was hit intentionally by New York reliever Mark Melancon, and Girardi said starter Sergio Mitre did not hit Encarnacion on purpose, either.
As for Carlson's pitch, Girardi said, "I think he was trying to protect his players."
According to a press release issued by the Office of the Commissioner, Posada and Carlson were suspended due to "their aggressive and inappropriate actions leading up to and during the bench-clearing incidents." The original suspensions were four games with a fine of $3,000, but the players did not appeal and the suspensions and fines were reduced.
Duncan has opted to appeal his three-game suspension. Similarly, Barajas seemed confused by his $1,000 fine and said that he also plans on filing an appeal. Gaston said the Jays catcher was punished for "verbal abuse," but Barajas said he was not given any further explanation.
"I have no idea," Barajas said.
Fortunately for the Blue Jays and Yankees, no players were seriously injured in the altercation. Carlson was sporting a significant welt above his left eye, and Girardi noted Posada was suffering from a stiff neck. Gaston said none of his players were hurt during the unfortunate incident.
"Everybody's OK," Gaston said.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.