Cincinnati Reds outfielder Nick Castellanos received a two-game suspension and an undisclosed fine for "aggressive actions and for instigating a benches-clearing incident" during the fourth inning Saturday.
The suspension was scheduled to begin Monday, but Castellanos is appealing the suspension. He is eligible to play until the appeal process is completed.
In addition to Castellanos – he was the only player ejected – five players received undisclosed fines: Eugenio Suárez, Jesse Winker, St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado, Cardinals reliever Jordan Hicks and Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina.
Michael Hill, Major League Baseball’s senior VP for on-field operations, announced the suspension Monday afternoon.
"I am disappointed that Nick was suspended even though he did not initiate physical contact," Reds manager David Bell said in a statement. "I am hopeful that when baseball is played with emotion, the players will be protected from dangerous and unnecessary retaliation."
Bell didn't take questions about the suspension during his pre-game press conference Monday, hoping that video of the incident would speak for itself.
Scott Boras, Castellanos’ agent, told The Enquirer that it’s a union matter that “requires strict attention.”
“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.”
During the fourth inning Saturday, Castellanos was hit by a 92-mph fastball from Jake Woodford in the ribs with two outs and nobody on base. Castellanos hit a two-run homer in the previous game, skipping out of the batter's box and tossing his bat, so he thought it may have been intentional.
“It’s possible, you know," Castellanos said Saturday night. "I’m swinging good right now. I feel good. There are two outs, there’s nobody on, 'hey, let’s try to shake them up a little bit. Get him off his game.' I know how it works, it’s baseball. I’m not here complaining about it. The only thing I can do is do anything I can to score.”
Castellanos briefly stared at the mound after he was hit by the pitch and he asked Molina if it was an accident. Molina responded, "of course," which Castellanos said he accepted. Castellanos then held up the baseball and asked Woodford if he wanted it back, which some Cardinals players saw as a disrespectful gesture.
“I mean, look, I wore 93 (mph) in the ribs," Castellanos said. "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 dude. Yadi is a boss. All right, I give him the benefit of the doubt."
Two batters later, Castellanos scored on a wild pitch as Woodford fell onto his back trying to apply a tag. Castellanos stood up, flexed and shouted, "Let's (expletive) go!" He began to walk away when Molina touched the back of Castellanos' neck, which prompted the benches to clear. Cardinals pitching coach Mike Maddux was the first one out of either dugout.
No punches appeared to be thrown. Castellanos didn't make contact with any other players, walking away after Molina touched him. He was escorted toward the Reds' dugout by home-plate umpire Tony Randazzo and later calmly chatted with Molina while standing on the first-base line.
Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said before Sunday's game that he didn't anticipate anything more than fines for his players.
"My expectation is there is nothing game-related," Shildt said. "They'll have their opinion. We'll have ours. My understanding is I don't think this will be anything related to games, nor should it. If it's monetary based on protocol being broke, we'll do our part to be responsible for whatever that looks like."
The league's health and safety protocols during COVID-19 say that players who come within 6 feet of each other "for the purpose of argument or engage in altercations on the field are subject to immediate ejection and discipline, including fines and suspensions"
WINKER SITS: Jesse Winker was out of the Reds' lineup for the second straight game Monday because of flu-like symptoms (unrelated to COVID-19). He was removed mid-game Saturday because he was feeling under the weather, but Bell expected him back soon.
"I'm not concerned that it's going to be much longer," Bell said. "Nothing long-term or significant like we've seen in the past."
BACK IN ACTION: Before Sunday's game, Bell took ground balls at shortstop alongside Eugenio Suárez.
"Sorry you had to watch that," Bell deadpanned. "It was fun for me. The players are nice enough to mix in every now and then. I try not to do it too much, I don't want to disrupt their work. It is fun as we can all imagine and selfishly, it can help keep you a little bit closer to the game. I'm always quickly reminded how difficult it is and I always want to remember that."