Boston Red Sox pitcher Julian Tavarez was suspended 10 days and fined for his role in a Grapefruit League brawl.

Tavarez, 32, was disciplined Thursday for punching Joey Gathright on a play at home plate in the eighth inning of a 12-11 win over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays three days earlier.

"I'm a little surprised," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "I know they (Major League Baseball) didn't have video, so I'm not sure what they're going on.

"It seems like a lot. He should have done steroids."

Tavarez's left leg got entangled with the right forearm of Gathright, who pushed it away and began barking at Tavarez.

Tavarez responded by punching him in the jaw, prompting a fracas.

Baseball disciplinarian Bob Watson cited Tavarez for "violent and unsportsmanlike actions."

Tavarez is no stranger to controversy, having been suspended four times since May 1996.

He signed with Boston on Jan. 18 for $6.7 million US over the next two years, including a $500,000 US signing bonus.

The pact also contains a club option for 2008 worth $3.85-million US.

Tavares posted a 2-3 record with a 3.43 earned-run average and four saves in 74 relief appearances last season.

The 13-year MLB veteran is 72-55 overall with a 4.33 ERA and 21 saves in 642 appearances, including 79 starts.

Tavarez has pitched for the Cleveland Indians, San Francisco Giants, Colorado Rockies, Chicago Cubs, Florida Marlins, Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals.

with files from Sports Network