Tampa Bay Rays
Iwamura's Suspension Stays; Crisp's Reduction Baffles Rays
PITTSBURGH - PITTSBURGH - When it comes to interpreting their June 5 brawl at Fenway Park, the Rays and Major League Baseball haven't seen eye-to-eye yet. They were upset when MLB initially suspended five Rays players for a total of 23 games and three Red Sox players for 15 games. They were confused that Jon Lester was one of the Boston players suspended even though he was allowed to stay in the game while James Shields was ejected. And they were perplexed Friday when MLB decided to reduce Coco Crisp's suspension from seven games to five while upholding the three-game ban slapped on Akinori Iwamura. Crisp and Iwamura will begin serving their suspensions today, with Iwamura eligible to return Tuesday and Crisp Thursday - conveniently missing the entire Rays-Red Sox series at Tropicana Field. Though Crisp's absence might help calm the atmosphere at the Trop next week, the Rays were perturbed that the player they saw as the obvious instigator - both in his spikes-high slide into Iwamura the night before the brawl and in charging Shields to ignite the melee - will end up missing the same amount of time as Jonny Gomes."Honestly, none of that makes any sense to me whatsoever," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. MLB officials did not respond to a request for an explanation of the rulings, but Maddon indicated - without getting into specifics - that the league might have based its decisions on precedents. That could have been the reasoning in Crisp's case, as the Cubs' Derrek Lee got five games for charging San Diego pitcher Chris Young last season. But it didn't quite follow in Iwamura's case. He was punished for going after a defenseless Crisp and got three games. About two months earlier, the Yankees' Melky Cabrera was suspended three games for punching Evan Longoria from behind during a spring training fracas and ended up sitting only two games after he agreed to drop his appeal. Iwamura said through his interpreter that he was "very disappointed" his appeal was denied. "It hurts me that I cannot start the first day against Boston," he said. "But at the same time it's decided by the commissioner and there's nothing I can do about it - I've got to live with it." Once Maddon had his say, that was his final message as well. "We accept it and we're going to move on," Maddon said. "We're not going to cry about it, we're not going to raise a stink over the fact that the Red Sox were reduced and we were not." Gomes declined to comment on the reduction in Crisp's penalty. EASING IN: Carlos Pena came off the disabled list Friday as expected; the surprise was seeing his name in the sixth slot in the batting order. He had hit either third or fourth in every other start this season, and Maddon said the change was made to take some pressure off Pena. "I just don't want to heap everything on his shoulders too quickly," Maddon said. Pena said Maddon had explained his reasons for the switch and he had no problem with them. "I am completely fine with that," Pena said. "I'm just glad to be back in the lineup with this uniform on and be out there just participating. PROUD PAPA: He didn't look like he was awake quite yet, but SS Jason Bartlett had enough energy to pass out the traditional cigars in the Rays' clubhouse Friday afternoon. Bartlett rejoined the team after his wife, Kelly, gave birth to their first child, son Jayden Anthony, Wednesday afternoon. "It was awesome - the best feeling ever," Bartlett said. Was it difficult to leave them Friday morning? "It was, but we go back in a few days," Bartlett said. "It'll give me a chance to get some sleep." Marc Lancaster
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