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Friday, May 26, 2006
Barrett suspended 10 games for igniting brawl

Associated Press

CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs catcher Michael Barrett was behind the plate Friday after appealing his 10-game suspension for his role in a bench-clearing melee last week when he punched A.J. Pierzynski of the White Sox.

Shortly after the suspension was announced, Barrett said he had already filed an appeal, hoping to get the suspension reduced. He went 2-for-5 on Friday as the Cubs lost to the Atlanta Braves 6-5.

White Sox outfielder Brian Anderson got a five-game suspension and a fine for his participation in a brawl that led to four ejections. He was also appealing.

White Sox third base coach Joey Cora was suspended two games and Pierzynski -- who knocked Barrett over at the plate, prompting the punch -- was fined.

Barrett and Cora were also fined.

"I didn't know what to expect. I've never been really been in a situation like this," Barrett said Friday. "I tried to prepare myself for the worst-case scenario and obviously hope for the best and just try at this point to take whatever comes next."

Barrett wasn't specific about the basis for his appeal and said he didn't know a timetable for having it heard. The suspensions were to have begun Friday.

"I don't know what is going to happen. I'm just anxious to put this behind me and move on," Barrett said.

Cubs manager Dusty Baker said Barrett's penalty was a "little harsh."

"We knew it would be something. We were hoping it wasn't going to be that many days," Baker said.

Was Baker surprised Pierzynski didn't get a suspension?

"Kind of. Yeah," Baker said. "Like I said, whenever there is a cause, there is an effect. The effect was Michael."

Speaking in Toronto, Pierzynski said he is appealing the $2,000 fine. After he was punched, he went back to the dugout waving his arms and slapping hands with teammates.

"They said they fined me for inciting the crowd," Pierzynski said. "I've seen a million guys do that to the crowd. That's why I'm appealing. We'll see what happens.

"I think it's a little steep for what I did. That's why I appealed it. I don't think that I did enough to deserve what I got fined," he said.

Cora said he was in a pile and couldn't get out.

"I was a part of the pile because I was getting crunched by everybody. They felt I was too aggressive even though I didn't throw any punches and I didn't bite anybody," Cora said, referring to rumors that had been circulating.

"That's the explanation I got from Watson, that I was too aggressive," he said, referring to Bob Watson, baseball's vice president for on-field operations.

The loss of Barrett would be a big blow to the struggling Cubs, who are already without injured slugger Derrek Lee. Barrett is batting .295 with six homers and 22 RBI.

"It's probably going to affect three people. It will affect Michael, whoever is going to be sent down and whoever is called up," Baker said. "It's pretty severe."

White Sox general manager Ken Williams said he would like to see a more aggressive approach to when penalties should begin.

"I just wish Major League Baseball would really take more of an active role and mandate when penalties should be served," Williams said. "Why should Michael Barrett get the chance to beat us the next day? Or the next time we play them? He'll play against us and then serve his suspension against Detroit. That's fair?"

In the second inning, Pierzynski knocked over Barrett at home plate before the throw arrived and slapped the plate after the collision as the ball got away. As Pierzynski got up and started to move around Barrett, the Cubs catcher punched him.

Barrett later said he should have pushed Pierzynski away instead of punching him and apologized to any youngsters who were watching.

"It's an emotional game, no problem with A.J. running him over, that's good hard, clean baseball," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said.

"In fairness to Michael, you get jolted like that and you get knocked a little silly -- and A.J. did take a few steps toward our side of the field -- and I think it's just normal that you would react, that there was going to be more action or some kind of a second confrontation and I hope Michael would be given some kind of leniency for that," he said.

Anderson, who hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to score Pierzynski, got into a fight with Cubs first baseman John Mabry.

"It seems to be the appropriate thing to do is just appeal it," Anderson said. "I don't really know. It's the first time I've ever been suspended so I'm kind of just rolling with the punches."

Barrett, Pierzynski, Anderson and Mabry were all ejected and the game was delayed 15 minutes. The White Sox won 7-0.