The Cincinnati Reds will be without one of the top hitters in their lineup against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Nick Castellanos will serve a two-game suspension after he lost his appeal Monday, a source confirmed. He was suspended for two games by Michael Hill, MLB's senior VP for on-field operations, for "aggressive actions and for instigating a benches-clearing incident" against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 3.
Under the revised health and safety protocols, the agreement between the league and players' union says, "prohibitions against unsportsmanlike conduct will be strictly enforced to prevent unnecessary physical contact and support physical distancing between individuals on the playing field.
"(Players who) come within six feet of an umpire or opposing player or manager for the purpose of argument, or engage in altercations on the field are subject to immediate ejection and discipline, including fines and suspensions."
The benches-clearing incident stemmed from when Castellanos was hit by a pitch from Cardinals reliever Jake Woodford in the Reds' second game of the season. Castellanos thought it may have been intentional and was upset when he was hit with no runners on base and two outs in the fourth inning.
Castellanos later scored in the inning on a wild pitch and Woodford fell onto Castellanos' back trying to apply a tag. Castellanos stood up after scoring and shouted, "Let's (expletive) go!" while staring at Woodford. Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina grabbed the back of Castellanos' neck as Castellanos began walking away, and the benches quickly cleared.
“I mean, look, I wore 93 (mph) in the ribs," Castellanos said afterward. "That don’t exactly feel good, you know? I asked Yadi if it was an accident. He said, ‘of course, it’s an accident.' All right, Yadi is a dude. Yadi is a boss. All right, I give him the benefit of the doubt.
“I’d say the more secure I’ve become as a man, and who I am, the more my raw emotions come out on the field. I’m not here to disrespect nobody."
No punches were thrown, but there was some shoving around home plate. Castellanos never made contact with another player. He was initially escorted near the Reds' dugout by home-plate umpire Tony Randazzo. He chatted calmly with Molina afterward.
Castellanos was the only player ejected and the only player suspended. Five other players – Eugenio Suárez, Jesse Winker, Molina, Nolan Arenado and Jordan Hicks –were fined for their roles in the benches-clearing incident.
"I am disappointed that Nick was suspended even though he did not initiate physical contact," Reds manager David Bell said in a statement on April 5 after the suspension was initially announced. "I am hopeful that when baseball is played with emotion, the players will be protected from dangerous and unnecessary retaliation."
When Castellanos was initially suspended, his agent, Scott Boras, told The Enquirer that it required "strict attention" from the players' union.
“When there is a contact play at the plate and no physical contact thereafter – only competitive speech – and a suspension is issued, such a subjective standard does not provide players with proper notice of violative conduct,” Boras said. “I can cite 20 incidents from the 2020 season where competitive speech was exchanged between players, without physical contact, and no suspension was issued.
“At this point, where non-physical contact occurred, I do not know if a player can determine what type of conduct amounts to a suspension.”