As reported on ESPN’s SportsCenter and mlb.com, Cardinals’ reliever Brad Thompson has been suspended by Major League Baseball for throwing a pitch near the head of David Wright. The league deemed the inside pitch to be intentional, justifying the suspension.
Thompson was to have begun serving his suspension tonight as the Cardinals opened up a series against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. However, Thompson chose to file an appeal, thus delaying his suspension until his case is presented. He will be allowed to pitch for the Cardinals until the case is reviewed, at which time the suspension will be upheld or reduced.
The incident occurred during the sixth inning of Wednesday’s 9-0 Mets victory over St. Louis at Citi Field. In the previous inning, Nelson Figueroa had hit Cardinals’ slugger Albert Pujols with a pitch near his right elbow. This loaded the bases for Matt Holliday, who proceeded to strike out to end the rally. Following the unwritten baseball rule of “you hit our best player, we hit yours”, Brad Thompson took it upon himself to throw a high, inside fastball near the head of David Wright. As stated before, Figueroa’s pitch was not near the head of Pujols.
Wright’s at-bat in the bottom of the sixth inning was his first after the Pujols beaning. The high and tight fastball seemed uncharacteristic for Thompson, who is a sinkerball pitcher. Given the fact that this was Wright’s first plate appearance after Pujols was hit and that the high, inside heater was not part of Thompson’s repertoire, it was concluded that the pitch couldn’t be anything but intentional.
Gary Sheffield said it best when asked for his reaction to Thompson’s attempt to send a “message” to the Mets for hitting Pujols:
“That’s uncalled for because you can do serious damage to somebody with a baseball. Throwing 90 mph, you can do a lot of damage. We didn’t try to hit Pujols, and unfortunately, they probably felt we did, and that is why they retaliated.”
Of course, Thompson saw things differently when he was asked after the game for his thoughts on the ill-fated pitch to Wright.
“You throw a ball like that at somebody’s head, especially after something happened earlier, and you expect a warning. I’m not going to try to hit David Wright in the head. I’m not going to hit anybody in the head.”
Kudos to Major League Baseball for its swift decision to suspend Brad Thompson. Had the ball hit Wright in the head, he might have been out for more than the three days Thompson will miss. Throwing at a batter to protect one of your own is acceptable and expected in baseball, but throwing at one’s head is never acceptable under any circumstances. David Wright was fortunate that he was not struck by the pitch. He might have suffered an injury that would have required far more than just a trip to the disabled list.