On Tuesday, June 7, Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Yordano Ventura intentionally threw a 99mph fastball right into Manny Machado’s back. When Machado charged the mound following this bit of headhunting, a brawl was sparked and when the dust settled days later, both Ventura and Machado had been suspended by the league.
Despite Ventura’s history of this kind of behavior of throwing hard at players on purpose and being at the center of bench-clearing incidents, the league only suspended him for nine games. Starting pitchers schedules being what they are, a nine game suspension only results in missing a single turn in the rotation.
Machado was issued a four game suspension. Both players appealed the suspensions and as the process tends to do, it dragged out for more than a week before being resolved. As it ends up, both players got things settled on Saturday night.
Ventura, in a move that in its most charitable reading could be described as “curiously uncommon,” negotiated to drop his appeal but serve a shorter suspension:
It was negotiated among Yordano Ventura's agent, MLB and the MLBPA that if he dropped appeal, MLB would lower suspension one game. #Royals— Jeffrey Flanagan (@FlannyMLB) June 18, 2016
Not that it really matters since he was only going to miss a start anyway, but it is irksome for the Orioles partisans of the world because of the principle of the thing. Ventura started Friday and his first game missed will be Saturday night. Owing to a week upcoming with two off days, the Royals will not even need to employ a spot starter in Ventura’s absence.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter announced in his post-game press conference following Saturday’s win over the Blue Jays that Machado would begin serving his suspension on Sunday.
Reporters then informed Showalter about the Ventura business, which had taken place during the game and of which Showalter was not previously aware. He availed himself of the opportunity to air out some frustration with the process:
“A good player doing good things and we won’t have him for four days because somebody hit him with a pitch. There’s other reasons, too. Intentionally. I need to stop.”
Pointing out the peculiarity of Ventura’s suspension being released without a hearing, Showalter told the reporters, “I’ll let you guys handle that. I’m trying to have enough money to finish up the garden.” I hope they give him a couple of Buck garden gnomes for that garden.
Unsurprisingly, Machado was similarly unamused by what happened, telling Orioles reporters:
It’s not right he will miss one start and I’ll miss four games. Think I’m more valuable as a player for my teammates than he is as a starter and he’s going only to miss one (start) for the incident he did. This whole problem started with him. Why do I get four and he gets one? That is up to MLB to figure out. All I can say is I wish whoever was making those opinions could step in the batter’s box and try to get hit by a 99 mph fastball thrown at them a couple of times.
The Orioles and Royals don’t play one another again this regular season. One imagines that there could be some bulletin board material in this quote and something that will not be forgotten the next time the teams meet.
Showalter said that Dan Duquette, Machado, and himself had a discussion about the best way to squeeze in the suspension to minimize the impact on the team. Machado dropped the appeal because they did not believe he would get any games reduced from his suspension. This way, he controls when the suspension will be served.
Machado is going to miss the last game of the Blue Jays series, the one make-up game in Texas, and two games at home against the Padres. The Orioles made sure to keep both Paul Janish and Ryan Flaherty on the roster for the balance of the suspension. The sooner the suspension is over, the sooner one of those guys becomes expendable and can be replaced by a pitcher.
The suspension will also bring an end to Machado’s consecutive games played streak of 229 games, the longest currently active in the majors. He was just a bit shy of Cal Ripken’s record 2,632 consecutive games. “I’ll start a new streak Friday,” Machado said.