Major League Baseball has suspended Baltimore Orioles closer Jorge Julio four games and fined him $1,000 for a fastball he threw over the head of Minnesota Twins infielder Augie Ojeda in Tuesday's 3-1 loss.
Julio's previous pitch resulted in a two-run home run to Michael Cuddyer, which proved to be the eventual game-winner.
"He's being disciplined for intentionally throwing at a batter's head," said Major League Baseball spokesman Matthew Gould.
Julio insists there was no malicious intent and said the penalty is too steep. He has appealed the decision.
"I never try to hit the guy in the face or head or whatever," Julio said. "I wasn't mad about the home run. The decision for me is not [right]. It's a lot of games."
Julio, who has struggled lately after allowing four earned runs in his past five innings, will be available to pitch this weekend against the Yankees while he waits for his appeal to be heard. Gould said there is no timetable for a ruling on Julio's suspension, though the commissioner's office may decide to rule quickly since less than a month remains in the season.
Orioles Manager Lee Mazzilli also seemed somewhat surprised by the penalty.
"Four days is a lot," Mazzilli said.
On Wednesday, the Orioles' manager scoffed when asked if he thought a suspension was possible.
"Did he hit him?" he asked with incredulity, and then said he hadn't seen a replay of the pitch.
Now Mazzilli will likely need to come up with another closer if Julio's suspension stands. The most likely candidate would be set-up man B.J. Ryan.
The Orioles announced 2002 first-round pick Adam Loewen has a slight tear in the labrum of his left shoulder and will rest for the next week before beginning a throwing program.
"Generally, that's good enough for most players," Orioles Executive Vice President Jim Beattie said.
If his shoulder does not respond, Loewen could require surgery, which could cause him to miss eight to 12 months.
"It's the last resort," Beattie said.
The left-hander compiled a 4-5 record with a 4.11 ERA in 20 starts at Class A Delmarva.
The injury would only be the latest for Orioles pitchers chosen in the first round. Mike Paradis, Beau Hale and Chris Smith -- first-round picks in 1999, 2001, 2002, respectively -- all missed significant time because of injuries.
Erik Bedard and Matt Riley, who weren't first-round picks but were considered top pitching prospects, both missed a season because of elbow ligament replacement surgery.