In case you forgot that Yasiel Puig was traded during the offseason from the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Cincinnati Reds, Sunday offered a useful way to keep it in mind: the memorable sight of the red-clad outfielder appearing to charge at the entire Pittsburgh Pirates squad during a brawl.
Welcome to the National League Central, Yasiel. We’ll see you again after, in all likelihood, you serve a suspension.
As is often the case with benches-clearing brawls, not much came of the fracas Sunday between the Reds and Pirates, in terms of actual fisticuffs. Puig, however, figures to hear from MLB officials about the way he reignited the fray after matters had appeared to settle down a bit.
The ill will arose in the fourth inning, after Pittsburgh starter Chris Archer threw a 93-mph fastball behind Cincinnati’s Derek Dietrich, in apparent retaliation for the pose the latter struck at home plate on a second-inning home run. Archer’s pitch brought a warning from home plate umpire Jeff Kellogg, which in turn got Reds Manager David Bell out of the dugout to argue that Archer should have been ejected.
Before long, players from both teams emerged from their respective dugouts and bullpens, with Puig among the first to get into the thick of it. The 28-year-old native of Cuba was initially pulled away from the scrum by teammate Joey Votto, but Puig got away from him and, with Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart clinging to his leg, he went back at the Pirates before order could be fully restored.
“When people watch the ball go far away or do bat flips, like I do before, in the next [at-bat] try to strike out the guy,” Puig said after the game, a 7-5 Pirates win. “Don’t try to hit the guy, because we can’t defend you back, because we can’t hit you with a bat or nothing.”
Archer said that he was just “trying to go in” on the pitch to Dietrich and “missed my spot.” The 30-year-old right-hander, in his second season in Pittsburgh, added: “I airmailed a couple balls today, a couple that I was trying to elevate, a couple that I yanked when righties were up there. Another one that I just yanked.”
“It’s just completely unacceptable for anyone to intentionally try to hurt one of our players,” Bell said. “It’s that simple. And it was obvious.”
In the wake of the brawl, Puig, Bell and Reds relief pitcher Amir Garrett were ejected, as were a pair of Pirates relievers, Keone Kela and Felipe Vazquez. While Archer was allowed to keep pitching, Puig was replaced by Matt Kemp — who came with him in the trade from Los Angeles — and Bell said his team “would always stick up for one of our players, no matter what.”
Asked what he thought about players taking issue with opponents admiring home runs, Bell said: “We concern ourselves with our team, and other teams need to concern themselves with how their team plays. . . . They don’t need to worry about how we go about it.”
After the game, the Pirates’ Twitter account threw some shade at the Reds, posting a photo of Pittsburgh first baseman Josh Bell homering in Sunday’s game with the caption, “Watch this one.” Archer posted a photo of himself wearing a shirt with the message, “When you play Pittsburgh, you play the whole city.”
Puig appeared ready to fight the whole city, in what was his most noteworthy moment thus far in a Reds uniform. After going 0 for 2 on Sunday before getting tossed, Puig is batting just .133 with no home runs and three RBI in 30 at-bats, but he may well have won himself a slew of new fans in Cincinnati.
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