Cards' skipper calls for two-week suspension of Reds' Harang

Updated: June 7, 2007, 12:43 PM ET
Associated Press

ST. LOUIS -- Gary Bennett had no hard feelings after getting hit in the head by an Aaron Harang fastball. His headache was gone by Wednesday, too.

"The ball just got away," the St. Louis catcher said. "It was an accident, no big deal. It's over with."

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa saw it differently. He called for the Cincinnati pitcher to be suspended after Tuesday night's game, and a day later he refused to back off on Harang.

Over the years, La Russa has periodically complained about the subject.

"It's accidental because he didn't mean to hit him, but he meant to throw the ball up and in and that's a very dangerous thing," La Russa said. "I've probably said it 100 times in the 20 years I've managed, so it ain't new material. But if you're a big league pitcher you should be able to get the ball below the shoulder."

On Tuesday, La Russa said a first-time offender should receive a two-week suspension, a month for the second offense and a full season for a third occurrence. He emphasized that goes for his pitchers, too.

"If our guy does it I yell, 'Get it down or you're out of there,'" La Russa said.

Harang telephoned Bennett after the game to apologize for the pitch that got away. He said it's the first time he's hit a batter in the head.

He added that in situations where hitting a batter is warranted he always aims below the letters.

"It's not a fun feeling to have," Harang said. "It was a two-seamer and I took a little off just trying to get it in there.

"I'd been guiding my pitches on my inside half and I didn't have my best stuff and you have days like that."

Harang said La Russa "can say what he wants," but should know the pitch was not intentional. He has hit three batters in 87 innings and has totaled 28 in six seasons.

"I'm not that type of person," he said. "He should know that, guys on their team know that, Gary knows that. If I didn't care, I wouldn't have called over there."

Bennett reassured Harang, saying, "I'm fine, don't worry about it. I was pretty sure it was an accident."

Both players said there were no lingering issues that led to Bennett getting struck in the second inning Tuesday. Kelly Stinnett caught the rest of the game only two days after being signed by the Cardinals, and was in the lineup for Wednesday's game.

Bennett said he was getting a day off as a precaution.

"There is no reason for me to even think of hitting him," Harang said. "He totally understood and said, 'There is no bad blood, no reason for you to do that."'


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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