- The Washington Times - Friday, April 7, 2006

HOUSTON — Washington Nationals reliever Felix Rodriguez is expected to be suspended three games and manager Frank Robinson one game for their roles in Thursday night’s beanball war against the New York Mets.

Robinson spoke over the phone yesterday with Bob Watson, Major League Baseball’s vice president for on-field operations. The two will meet in person either today or tomorrow, but Robinson said there won’t be much reason for debate.

Baseball policy, which Robinson helped write during his time working at the league offices, requires a three-game suspension for any pitcher who is ejected for throwing at a batter after a warning was issued. That club’s manager also is required to serve a one-game suspension.

“Felix Rodriguez is gone for three games, that’s automatic,” said Robinson, who won’t appeal. “I’m gone for one, that’s automatic.”

Rodriguez said he didn’t know whether he would appeal.

It’s uncertain when the suspensions will be served. Also uncertain is whether right fielder Jose Guillen will face a suspension of his own for walking toward the mound with his bat held out after getting plunked by Mets ace Pedro Martinez for a second time Thursday night.

“If you charge the mound, that’s one or two games,” said Robinson, who did not talk about Guillen during his conversation with Watson yesterday.

No matter how severe the punishments are, the Nationals still feel like they got a bad deal in from Thursday’s fracas. Though six of their own players were hit by pitches in two games, compared to only one Mets player, Rodriguez and Robinson were the only ones ejected.

Umpire crew chief Rick Reed said only Rodriguez’s eighth inning plunking of Paul Lo Duca was clearly intentional. The Nationals vehemently disagree and continue to insist that Mets reliever Duaner Sanchez hit Nick Johnson intentionally in the seventh — two innings after the original warning was issued and after Johnson had hit a three-run homer.

“You let that go by, all you’re doing is creating more animosity on the other side,” Robinson said. “Hey, the guy gets hit after hitting a three-run homer, nothing happens. … I think actually he let them get away with something there.”

This saga is far from over. The Mets come to RFK Stadium on Tuesday for a three-game series, with Martinez scheduled to start Wednesday night. Guillen insists he’ll be ready for Martinez, who has hit five Nationals batters in 40 career plate appearances but claims Thursday’s two beanings were unintentional.

“He can say whatever he wants,” Guillen said. “We’ll see what happens Wednesday.”

The Nationals and Mets play 15 more games this season, so it figures that Guillen and Martinez will see plenty more of each other.

“Pedro should take that into consideration,” Robinson said. “It shouldn’t all be on the hitter. The pitcher has to accept some responsibility, too. … I’m not going to sit here and say Pedro throws at people. I’m not going to do that. But Pedro is a very smart individual. Pedro will do what he has to do to try to keep the edge.”

Extra BP for Nats

Robinson and hitting coach Mitchell Page spent considerable time yesterday afternoon working in the batting cage with slumping starters Brian Schneider and Brandon Watson, among others.

The two have struggled mightily at the plate since the season opened. Watson entered last night’s game against the Houston Astros with just one hit in 12 at-bats. Schneider was hitless in 11 at-bats and hadn’t hit one ball out of the infield.

Drese returns

Right-hander Ryan Drese rejoined the Nationals yesterday after staying in Florida to finish his rehabilitation from offseason shoulder surgery.

Drese will start tomorrow afternoon against Astros left-hander Andy Pettitte, assuming the No. 5 spot in Washington’s rotation that became vacant when Pedro Astacio suffered a forearm strain.

Got a question about the Nats? Mark Zuckerman has the answers. To submit a question, go to the https://www.washingtontimes.com/sports>Sports Page

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