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MLB suspends Rick Porcello six games for hitting Ben Zobrist

Rick Porcello will appeal. If upheld, the suspension will force him to miss one start

J. Meric

In response to the war or inside pitches between the Detroit Tigers and Tampa Bay Rays, MLB has laid down the law. But they have only used their suspension hammer on Tigers starting pitcher Rick Porcello. The 24 year old right-hander was suspended six games by MLB for his hitting the Rays Ben Zobrist on Sunday. At the time, Porcello was not ejected, despite bench warnings being issued by home plate umpire Vic Carapazza.

Porcello will appeal the ruling, so the suspension will not go into effect right away.

MLB has issued this statement:

Pitcher Rick Porcello of the Detroit Tigers has received a six-game suspension and an undisclosed fine for intentionally throwing a pitch at Ben Zobrist of the Tampa Bay Rays in the bottom of the first inning of Sunday’s game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. Joe Garagiola, Jr., Senior Vice President of Standards & Operations for Major League Baseball, made the announcement.

Obviously, being a starting pitcher, the only way MLB would force Porcello to miss a start is with a lengthier suspension of more than four games.

There was no discipline for Rays reliever Fernando Rodney throwing high and tight at Miguel Cabrera on Saturday night. As expected, it's not the first action, but the reaction, which attracts the attention of MLB's front office.

Porcello being suspended for six games shows just how arbitrary MLB can be in disciplinary matters. Earlier this season, Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin was hit with just an eight game suspension for charging the mound, even though he put Dodgers starting pitcher Zack Greinke on the disabled list for a month by breaking his collarbone.

Not helping is Porcello's own history with intentional pitches, going back to August 11, 2009 and the Kevin Youkilis incident. In that instance, Porcello was suspended five games for intentionally throwing at Victor Martinez in the first inning and Youkilis in the second while facing the Red Sox (Koukilis was also dinged five games for charging the mound).

Feel free to toss blame at Jim Leyland for the suspension as well, being he all but guaranteed the Tigers would retaliate in his post game presser on Saturday. Via Chris Iott of Mlive:

"I don't care about throwing inside, but I don't like it up there," Leyland said. "We will not tolerate that. You can take that to the bank. We won't tolerate that up at the head, with anybody, not (just) Cabrera, but anybody"

What this news does mean is rookie Jose Alvarez may not being heading back to Toledo just yet (or will be returning soon). Of course, this depends upon exactly when the suspension goes into effect. An appeal could drag on until the All-Star break, which would be in the Tigers' favor when it comes to adjusting their rotation.

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