New York Yankees pitcher Aroldis Chapman was issued a three-game ban by Major League Baseball on Wednesday while managers Aaron Boone and Kevin Cash were each given one-game suspensions.
The punishments, including fines for each of undisclosed amounts, were handed down after a benches-clearing confrontation at the conclusion of the Yankees' 5-3 victory over Cash's Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night.
Cuban-born Chapman was disciplined for intentionally throwing a 101-mph pitch near the head of Tampa Bay's Mike Brosseau in the top of the ninth inning.
"We're talking about people's lives at this point," Brosseau said. "This is the radar-gun era. People are throwing hard. When it gets to that area of the body with that velocity... there's just no room for that."
Chapman appealed his suspension, allowing him to play Wednesday, the southpaw closer saying his high throw was not deliberate.
"I want to make this clear -- I had no intention of hitting anybody at all," Chapman said through a translator.
Teams emptied the benches and confronted each other after the contest, emotions tense after Chapman's pitch.
"There's a lot of back and forth, teams competing for first place," said Chapman. "There's a lot of tenacity between the teams, but it's understandable when you're in a race."
The Rays own the best record in the American League at 25-12 while the Yankees are second to Tampa Bay in the AL East division at 20-14.
Boone and Cash missed Wednesday's series finale between the clubs at Yankee Stadium.
Boone, fined and banned as a result of Chapman's actions, said he spoke with MLB officials after the ban was imposed, saying he felt it was unwarranted.
"I don't think I should be sitting out tonight," Boone said. "I also do respect the process and the thoroughness and the care that they gave to walking through this. I accept it, but I certainly don't agree with it."
Cash was banned after being ejected from the game and his post-game comments included saying the Yankees had "poor judgment, poor coaching, poor teaching," and noting the Rays have pitchers who can throw the ball hard and fast as well.
"It's fair, warranted," Cash said of his suspension. "Sorry that I'll miss tonight, for sure, because it's a big game, but I'll watch from a seat somewhere."
Boone called Cash's comments "reckless and inflammatory."
- 'Blood gets boiling' -
Yankees-Rays dramas date to two years ago when CC Sabathia plunked a Rays batter in retaliation for a fastball near Austin Romine's head. Over three seasons, Yankees pitchers have hit 19 Rays batters and Rays pitchers have hit 14 Yankees batters.
"Even though there have been a few of these incidences where the blood gets boiling and tempers flare, I think both teams are smart enough and good enough to realize that it's about getting the job done on the field," Boone said. "Hopefully this is something that can all be behind us."
Chapman, punished previously for intentional throws at the head, said he has struggled with fastball command due to the COVID-19 delay o the start of the season. Tuesday was his first save in four appearances this season.
"I've never had any issues or ever been in a situation where I've hit anybody on purpose," Chapman said. "Of course there are pitches that are close to hitters, but there was never any intention to hit anybody."