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Astros, Athletics Suspensions Come Down From Sunday Altercation
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Tuesday afternoon Major League Baseball and league vice president of baseball operations Chris Young announced discipline stemming from Sunday’s benches clearing incident between the Oakland Athletics and Houston Astros, and it is severe. Here are the penalties:

  • Ramon Laureano, Athletics center fielder: 6 games and an undisclosed fine for “charging the Astros’ dugout and causing the benches to clear”
  • Alex Cintron, Astros hitting coach: 20 games and an undisclosed fine for “his role in inciting and escalating the conflict”

Laureano’s suspension is equivalent to 16 games in a normal 162-game season. He is appealing the suspension and is eligible to play until the appeal is heard. Cintron’s suspension is equivalent to 54 games and his 20-game ban is believed to be the longest ever given to an MLB coach. His suspension begins Tuesday night.

Suspensions for benches clearing incidents are typically 3-5 games for position players and 5-10 games for pitchers in a 162-game season, and it is not uncommon for coaches or managers to receive a few games depending on their role. MLB vowed to crack down on fighting this year though. Here’s what Section 5.2 of the 2020 Operations Manual, the collectively bargained document that outlines health and safety protocols amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, says about fighting:

Fighting and instigating fights are strictly prohibited. Players must not make physical contact with others for any reason unless it occurs in normal and permissible game action. Violations of these rules will result in severe discipline consistent with past precedent, which discipline shall not be reduced or prorated based on the length of the season.

“We understand,” A’s manager Bob Melvin told reporters, including MLB.com’s Martin Gallegos, following Sunday’s game. “You do the best you can with these things. Obviously, we don’t want to get into a brawl like that. We understand the protocol. Unfortunately, it happened. We all know. We’ve talked about it. Everybody knows what is at stake here.”

The seventh inning brawl started after Laureano took exception to being hit by a pitch for the second time in the game and the third time in the series. He exchanged words with pitcher Humberto Castellanos as he made his way to first base and later jawed with Cintron. Laureano charged the dugout and was intercepted by former A’s teammate Dustin Garneau.

Laureano claims he charged the dugout after Cintron said “in Spanish something you don’t say about my mother.” Cintron denied making a comment about Laureano’s mother through the Astros. His suspension is the longest for an on-field incident since Kenny Rogers was suspended 20 games for a physical confrontation with two cameramen in 2005,” according to The Athletic’s Jayson Stark.

“I accept MLB’s suspension and will learn from this,” Cintron said in a statement. “Although I never referenced Ramon’s mother, my actions were inappropriate. I apologize for my part in Sunday’s unfortunate incident. As coaches, we are held to a higher standard and should be an example to the players. Hopefully, other coaches will learn from my mistake so that this never happens again in the future.”  

“Ramon doesn’t go over there unless something completely offensive came out of the dugout,” Melvin told Gallegos on Sunday. “I think the league will know who that is. That person should get suspended. Hopefully, that’s the case. Nowadays, without fans in the stands and mics everywhere, my guess is they know who it was.”

The Astros have already had multiple run-ins with opponents this year. Two weeks ago Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly was suspended eight games for throwing a pitch behind Alex Bregman’s head and taunting Carlos Correa. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was suspended one game as well. Kelly is appealing his suspension and is currently on the injured list.

Prior to the COVID-19 shutdown the Astros drew the ire of countless players across the league as a result of their sign-stealing scandal. Dodgers star and reigning NL MVP Cody Bellinger ripped the Astros for their “weak” apology and commissioner Rob Manfred for what he considered a light punishment.

Cintron joined Houston in 2017 and has been their hitting coach since 2019. In February, Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal reported Cintron was “believed to be involved in transmitting information from the video room to the dugout” as part of the team’s sign-stealing scandal.

The Astros have two hitting coaches on their staff: Cintron and assistant Troy Snitker. It’s unclear whether Snitker will take over as the main hitting coach during Cintron’s suspension or the club will add a temporary replacement, if they’re allowed to do so.

Laureano, 26, is a former Astros prospect who joined the A’s in a minor trade in Nov. 2017. He has been the team’s best hitter in the early going this season, authoring a .263/.405/.491 batting line with three home runs through 17 games.

The Athletics are 12-5 and have the most wins in baseball in the early going. The Astros are 7-9 and were swept by the A’s this past weekend. They are 4 1/2 games back in the AL West. It is their largest division deficit in four years.

The A’s and Astros have seven games remaining this season: Aug. 28-30 in Houston and Sept. 7-10 in Oakland.

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