Here's the exact statement from the official release from Major League Baseball ...
Pitcher Cliff Lee of the Seattle Mariners has received a five-game suspension and an undisclosed fine for intentionally throwing a pitch in the head area of Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Chris Snyder during the third inning of Seattle's Spring Training game on Monday, March 15 at Tucson Electric Park in Tucson, Arizona. Bob Watson, Vice President of On-Field Operations for Major League Baseball, made the announcement.
Unless appealed, Lee is scheduled to begin serving his suspension on Opening Day, Monday, April 5. If appealed, Lee's suspension will be held in abeyance until the process is complete.Obviously Lee will appeal the suspension. Players always appeal the suspension. Going from past appeals, I'm guessing the suspension will be reduced to three or four games. Since he's appealing the suspension, it doesn't seem likely that Lee will speak, but we may try to ask him anyway.
In my opinion, it's excessive and a little heavy handed. He didn't hit Snyder. But oh well, maybe it's Bob Watson trying to prove a point or set the tone for the season.
Manager Don Wakamatsu wasn't surprised that the league took action against Lee, saying he assumed something would happen.
"I didn’t know the word abeyance. I had to go look that up," Wakamatsu joked. "We’ll just let the process take place and we’ll see where we’re at."
For the record abeyance is a noun meaning temporary inactivity, cessation, or suspension.
General manager Jack Zduriencik said he was "a little bit surprised" by the suspension. But had very little else to say.
"It is what it is," Zduriencik said. "I’m sure Cliff is going to appeal it and we’ll see where it takes us."
The big thing for the Mariners is that the appeal is heard and a final decision is made expeditiously (yeah, I can use big words too MLB) so that some decisions can be made about the slotting of the rotation and such.
"Certainly, we’d like to get a definitive on this sooner or later so you can set your pitching," Zduriencik said. "That’s in everyone’s best interest for the ball club, the other pitchers on staff and Cliff for that matter."
Wakamatsu and his staff had planned on finalizing the rotation on March 30th. So obviously that could change some things. Pitching coach Rick Adair had slotted out the starters' spring training innings and appearances to fit with kind of how the rotation would set up, especially for Lee and Felix Hernandez.
I don't know how they are going to slot it out, particularly if they want to return Lee to the No. 2 spot, and have him pitch behind Hernandez. The Mariners have three off days in April, and trying to figure out how it would differentiate between a 5, a 4 or even a 3-game suspension is just mentally exhausting. I'm going to wait until the actual appeal decision is announced before I try to figure it out.
If the suspension is five games though, it would make it tough to take a 11-man pitching staff out of spring training.