TORONTO – Aaron Sanchez launched an appeal of the three-game suspension he received from Major League Baseball on Tuesday without hesitation, standing by previous comments that he didn’t intentionally throw at Kansas City Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar.
The exact timeline for when his case will be heard is unclear, but the hard-throwing reliever will remain available to the Toronto Blue Jays until a decision is reached. Last year, Marcus Stroman was suspended five games Sept. 17, and four days later, while the team was in New York, he agreed to a reduction of one game.
The Blue Jays are headed to New York this weekend for an important three-game series with the Yankees, and the ideal scenario would have him available for those contests before serving his time at home next week against the Oakland Athletics.
Still, the ruling, which included a one-game suspension to manager John Gibbons for returning to the field after an ejection, left many around the Blue Jays feeling like they got a raw deal in Sunday’s fracas with the Kansas City Royals.
After that game, Sanchez called his ejection for hitting Escobar after warnings had been issued “crap,” saying he had no reason to put a runner on in a close game, pointed to his lack of pinpoint command, and added, “If I want to send a message, I would have sent it to their big guys.”
Tuesday, he said he’ll comment further after the appeal is settled, and when asked if launching it was a no-brainer, he replied: “Absolutely.”
Sunday’s troubles began when home plate umpire Jim Wolf issued warnings in the first inning after Royals starter Edinson Volquez hit third baseman Josh Donaldson, who twice reacted angrily to pitches up and in later in the contest.
Things turned up a notch in the seventh inning when Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was hit on the wrist by Ryan Madson, who wasn’t ejected despite the warnings, and after the reliever buzzed Donaldson, Gibbons came out to argue and was ejected.
Sanchez hit Escobar in the knee area with a 2-0 pitch in the eighth, leading the benches to clear, but nothing beyond barking ensued. During the fracas, Gibbons returned from the clubhouse to try and calm things down.
Russell Martin said “it’s a little bit unfortunate just how the whole situation was handled, I felt like it wasn’t the right protocol,” believing Wolf should have ejected Madson following the plunking of Tulowitzki.
“If that happens, then the situation is over,” said Martin. “That wasn’t the case. We felt like it was a little bit unjust in that regard. I understand why we’re appealing it, I feel like three games is a bit much, we’re not headhunters or anything like that, he didn’t do anything like that. On the other hand, I felt like it happened numerous times on their side.”
The Blue Jays have no role in the appeal process, as Sanchez, his representatives and the players association argue the case. General manager Alex Anthopoulos said Sanchez does that with the team’s full support and made it sound like he believes Volquez threw at Donaldson intentionally in the first.
“From what we were told, it’s the umpire’s discretion what intent was,” said Anthopoulos. “And Jim Wolf felt like the three times with the Kansas City side there was no intent. …
“The change-up that was up-and-in to Josh, I don’t think there was intent there. I don’t know if anybody’s ever tried to hit anybody with a change-up. But in the first inning when he got hit, if you’ve seen Edinson Volquez’s comments, he talked about Josh and the game before, hitting the home runs and his reaction. You start putting two and two together. I would expect that there’s intent there. But that’s not for me to decide. … The three games on our end seems a little high.”
Gibbons, meanwhile, became the first Blue Jays manager to be suspended since Carlos Tosca got one game for inappropriate actions and comments during an argument with umpire Tim Timmons Aug. 26, 2003. Funnily enough, Gibbons served as manager in that contest.
He spent Tuesday’s game against the Minnesota Twins watching from a private box, as suspended personnel aren’t allowed in the clubhouse during games.
“That’s the rule, that’s the law,” Gibbons said of his suspension. “Really, the coaches don’t go out there to throw punches, you usually go out there to make peace. But that’s the rule. As far as Sanchie, hopefully they’ll chip that one down a little bit, but that one is automatic after warnings when you get ejected for hitting a guy.”