Braves rookie reliever Jonny Venters was suspended for four games and fined an undisclosed amount Monday for what Major League Baseball characterized as “throwing at” the Brewers’ Prince Fielder Saturday.
Braves manager Bobby Cox was also suspended for one game.
The announcement was made by Bob Watson, MLB’s vice president of on-field operations. His statement said Venters was being suspended “for throwing two consecutive pitches at Prince Fielder” and Cox for “the intentional actions of Venters after a warning had been issued to the pitcher following the first intentional pitch thrown at Fielder.”
Venters and Cox were both ejected from Saturday’s game after Venters’ first pitch of the eighth inning sailed near Fielder’s head and the one to follow hit him in the back.
Venters had been warned after the first pitch, a slider. After his ensuing pitch hit Fielder between the shoulder blades, the ejections were automatic.
Both Venters and Cox denied that there was any intention behind the pitches, even though Cox acknowledged how it might have looked.
Fielder had hit a game-tying home run in his previous at-bat in the seventh inning Saturday night. And this was after Fielder was also hit by a Tommy Hanson pitch on Friday following a two-run home run by Ryan Braun.
“We didn’t hit Fielder [intentionally] (Friday) night at all,” Cox said after Saturday’s game. “And we didn’t hit him (Saturday) intentionally, at all. And that is the truth.”
Venters said Saturday they were “just a couple of pitches that got away from me,” the first one a breaking ball, the second, a sinking fastball.
Cox spoke with Brewers manager Ken Macha on the field before Sunday’s series finale, but the Brewers’ manager still asked MLB to review it.
Braves general manager Frank Wren indicated Monday he would reserve comment until he talked to everyone involved, which would likely happen Tuesday. The Braves were off on Monday.
There is no formal appeal process for managers so Cox is expected to serve his suspension Tuesday in the opener of a three-game series against the Padres. If the Braves choose to appeal Venters’ suspension, he wouldn’t begin serving his suspension until his appeal is heard.