Atkins backs Bautista as Blue Jays slugger argues appeal of suspension

Toronto Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins talks about the process of appealing the suspension to Jose Bautista.

NEW YORK – Jose Bautista argued the appeal of his one-game suspension to Major League Baseball on Thursday, a punishment Toronto Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins believes the all-star right-fielder didn’t deserve in the first place.

The ban stems from the May 15 brawl against the Texas Rangers in which Bautista was thrown at intentionally by Matt Bush. Then, after sliding hard into second base in protest and narrowly avoiding a relay throw in the head from Rougned Odor, he was punched in the jaw by the second baseman, triggering a wild melee.

"It’s really disappointing to us to have gone through that and have felt so aggressively attacked by another team that he’s serving a suspension," Atkins said during an 11-minute conversation with media. "If the fight (with the Rangers) didn’t actually ensue, I don’t think he’s dealing with a suspension. It seems, though, to me at least and to the Toronto Blue Jays, the penalty for his slide was that Justin Smoak was out at first base. Major League Baseball and the players union are working really hard to come to a resolution as quickly as possible."

Odor was suspended eight games but argued his appeal on Tuesday. The timeline for a decision from MLB was uncertain, but a call on Bautista’s argument wasn’t expected before Thursday’s series finale against the New York Yankees.

"We felt attacked, no one felt attacked more than Jose did. You can argue that he was thrown at twice," Atkins said when asked if eight games was sufficient punishment for Odor. "We’re really glad that Jose was the person that was in the fire, because he handled himself so well once he was in the fire. He handled himself so professionally."

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