By Tom Schad
Chicago Cubs catcher Steve Clevenger maintained that he was “just trying to break everybody up” when the Cubs’ and Nationals’ benches cleared Thursday night. But he was the only player suspended from the ordeal Saturday afternoon.
Clevenger received a one-game suspension and an undisclosed fine for what MLB called “aggressive actions and fighting” in the Nationals’ 9-2 victory two nights ago. Washington pitcher Michael Gonzalez was ejected Thursday but has not been punished further.
The benches cleared after Cubs pitcher Lendy Castillo threw a pitch significantly inside to Bryce Harper in the bottom of the sixth inning. Nats third base coach Bo Porter and Cubs bench coach Jamie Quirk had exchanged words one inning earlier, and tensions were running high. Players rushed on to the field and Gonzalez, Quirk, Clevenger and Cubs reliever Manuel Corpas were ejected.
Nationals manager Davey Johnson said after the game that he didn’t expect Gonzalez to be suspended.
“The umpires did a heck of job in handling it. [Gonzalez] was reacting to the guy coming over the top and he didn’t throw no punches, he just, somebody on our side (had to go) to kind of balance things out,” Johnson said. “I thought they handled it very well. I didn’t want to lose him, I wanted to use him in that eighth inning. It put a crimp in what I wanted to do but I wouldn’t suspect, it was more of a, we were on then field too, but we definitely didn’t start it and we didn’t exacerbate it or keep the flames going higher.”
Clevenger will not appeal the suspension, according to the Chicago Tribune. He will be held out of tonight’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.