Baseball

MLB suspends Tigers' Rodney

Detroit Tigers closer Fernando Rodney has been suspended for three games and fined for throwing a ball toward the stands following a game last week.

GM Dombrowski says team's closer would appeal 3-game banishment

The Detroit Tigers soon could be attempting to maintain their lead atop the American League Central Division standings without their closer.

Major League Baseball on Tuesday suspended Fernando Rodney three games and fined the stopper for throwing a ball toward the stands and into the press box at Tampa Bay's Tropicana Field following a 4-3 win on Friday night.

Afterwards, Rodney told reporters he grabbed the ball from teammate Miguel Cabrera and was throwing the ball to fans.

Rodney believes the suspension is too severe.

"That's surprising. I think if I hit [intentionally] somebody with the ball, then I need to pay the penalty," said Rodney of the punishment handed down by Bob Watson, MLB's vice-president for discipline. "I know it's not a good idea to throw the ball into the stands, but it's an emotional time. It's an emotional thing to do."

Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said Rodney clearly didn't have any intent to injure anyone and would appeal the suspension.

"I cannot condone what Fernando did. That was inappropriate — you're not supposed to throw the ball into the stands like that and the players know that," he said.

"Fortunately, no one got hit, but beyond that it's not like he was upset at anyone other than himself. He wasn't throwing it at anyone, he wasn't throwing it in the press box on purpose. He just threw the ball."

Dombrowski also said the length of the suspension was due, in part, to a letter sent to Major League Baseball by the president of the Tampa Bay chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Dombrowski said he was told that the letter from Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times, which he has a copy of, was a "strong" factor in MLB's decision to suspend Rodney.

"What bothers me — and again, I don't condone what happened — was that a lot of it was driven by the letter," Dombrowski said. "He didn't think that Rodney was at all sorry or remorseful. I know Fernando and I know he was remorseful when I spoke to him. He was very, very sorry and it's a shame. He wrote the letter and I wish he would have spoken to me beforehand.

Topkin said he was only following procedure as president of the BBWAA chapter.

"The email was sent to inform MLB media relations officials of what occurred, Rodney throwing the ball into the press box and what he said afterward, as is common practice for a BBWAA chapter chairman when something unusual happens involving the media," Topkin said.

"I did not advocate any discipline. This was a decision by MLB officials, and obviously they felt this was a serious matter."

Tigers manager Jim Leyland didn't see Rodney throw the ball into the stands, but Dombrowski did and called him into the manager's office after the game to tell him his behaviour was inappropriate.

Dombrowski said Rodney apologized and said he was mad at himself and had allowed his emotions to get the best of him.

Detroit entered play Tuesday with a 6½ -game lead over the Minnesota Twins.

With files from The Associated Press