Braves outfielder Reed Johnson was suspended one game and fined by Major League Baseball, as was outfielder Carlos Gomez of the Milwaukee Brewers, for “actions during the on-field incident” in Wednesday’s benches-clearing confrontation.
Both Freddie Freeman and Brian McCann also were fined for their involvement, but not suspended.
“I think we knew that there was going to be some discipline laid down,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said. “I think there’s a sense of relief. I think in kind of a perverse way, Freddie served his suspension last night getting thrown out in the very beginning of the game. We lost arguably our best hitter for the entire game.”
Freeman was ejected from Wednesday’s game for what umpires told him was throwing punches. After the game, crew chief Dana DeMuth indicated Freeman had thrown an elbow at Aramis Ramirez, which Freeman contended at the time and again Thursday was inadvertent.
“I just saw a little scuffle going on over to my left, so I swam-moved and tried to get over there,” said Freeman, smiling and referencing the move a defensive lineman might make to get to a quarterback. “All I did was just get in there and I moved the pile about 20 feet. I don’t apologize for anything. The only thing I apologize for is Aramis. I wish I could swim-move better and not hit him.”
Gomez took exception to being hit by a Paul Maholm pitch earlier this season, and after he hit a home run off Maholm on Wednesday night, he shouted at the pitcher as he circled the bases. McCann was waiting to confront Gomez in front of home plate and never allowed Gomez to touch the plate, as both benches cleared.
Johnson said Thursday he will appeal his suspension. He will not have to serve it until the appeal is heard, which could push it pack to the start of next season. His status for the postseason will not be affected.
Johnson was among the first Braves to reach the scrum behind home plate. He made contact with Gomez, though Johnson said Thursday he had his hands open, trying to grab him.
“I’m not trying to throw punches at a guy,” Johnson said. “I’m trying to get a guy who’s out of control under control. I don’t think that really warrants a suspension.”
McCann reacts: McCann got more than his share of air time in the 24 hours after his nose-to-nose confrontation with Gomez that fueled a benches-clearing fracas Wednesday night.
McCann is featured, mask up, eyes blazing, and shouting at Gomez in countless photos from multiple angles and a myriad of video replays. McCann’s actions have been analyzed by broadcasters who both supported and condemned his decision to block Gomez’s path to the plate in defense of Maholm.
For his part, McCann had no regrets.
“In the heat of the moment, I did what I thought was right,” McCann said Thursday afternoon. “I stand by what I did. I’m sticking up for this team. I don’t think that’s a part of baseball. Reading what (Gomez) said last night, I think he agrees with it.”
Gomez apologized both through his comments to the media and on Twitter after the game, acknowledging “the adrenaline and emotion took it a little (far).”
McCann made more news Thursday night when he had to leave the game against the Phillies in the second inning after straining an adductor (groin) muscle. The Braves announced his status was day-to-day.
Gomez had come into the game, charged up about being hit by a Maholm pitch June 23. He was staring down Maholm after swinging and missing the first pitch he saw in the first inning. After he homered on the next pitch, he jawed at Maholm all the way around the bases.
Gomez was still looking at Maholm after he rounded third base, and only at the last minute did he see a bowed-up McCann up the third-base line, ready to confront him.
“If you want to sit there and watch it for a few seconds, I’m OK with that,” McCann said. “But to round the bases and yell the whole way around the bases, I just I felt like I needed to say something. I don’t think that’s a part of the game of baseball. I thought he showed up our whole team. So I did what I felt any catcher would do in that situation. That’s sticking up for his teammate.”
Walden watch: Braves reliever Jordan Walden hasn’t pitched in a game since Sept. 17, and Gonzalez acknowledged he hasn’t been right physically since returning from a groin injury. Walden has given up five earned runs in 2 2/3 innings over three outings since his return. He’s in danger of not making the postseason roster.
“There were some issues there, and now we’re trying to get him back healthy,” Gonzalez said. “He’s got to prove to us that he’s healthy.”