Yasiel Puig didn’t let the fact that, as a practical matter, he was no longer a member of the Reds stop him from getting involved in a wild brawl Tuesday between Cincinnati and the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Cincinnati relief pitcher Amir Garrett is all but certain to miss a substantial amount of playing time, given his role in sparking the brawl. He was on the mound speaking with a coach for the Reds, Jeff Pickler, when he ran over toward the Pirates’ dugout and started throwing punches.
Bell, who had already been ejected from the game in the previous inning for arguing balls and strikes, charged back onto the field and was tackled to the turf by Pirates hitting coach Rick Eckstein. Once he got back up, Bell headed toward Pittsburgh Manager Clint Hurdle and engaged his counterpart in a heated argument.
The root of the brawl leads back to April, when the Reds and Pirates squared off after Pittsburgh starter Chris Archer threw a 93-mph fastball behind Cincinnati’s Derek Dietrich, in apparent retaliation for latter’s enjoyment of a home run he hit earlier in the game. As it happened, Puig played a central role in that melee, at one point seeming all too happy to take on the entire Pirates team by himself.
Tensions mounted in Tuesday’s game when Pittsburgh reliever Keone Kela threw a seventh-inning pitch over the head of Dietrich. Kela had some words for the Cincinnati dugout as he left the mound, then said after the game, “People could say it’s overdue. At the end of the day this is baseball, and I have to protect my teammates. I have to do what I feel is right. Not only that, you have to pitch in. That’s part of this game.”
Kela’s actions led to some jawing with Cincinnati’s Joey Votto, who said after the game, “Today was an example of us standing our ground for what we think is right. At some point, a group of players has to do that.”
“It’s a shame that this is allowed and that they’re able to get away with it,” Bell said of Kela’s pitch to Dietrich. “They celebrate it, they support it, they clearly allow it. I don’t know if they teach it, but they allow it. It’s dangerous.”
“I definitely do think they teach that in that organization,” Garrett said. “I don’t think it’s right to throw at somebody. That’s not something you should do. If you have a problem, handle it like a man.”
The top of the ninth began with Reds reliever Jared Hughes hitting the Pirates’ Starling Marte with a pitch. With both benches already having been warned, Hughes was ejected, as was Reds bench coach Freddie Benavides, leading to Garrett’s arrival on the mound.
Garrett appeared to be enraged by some heckling from Pittsburgh’s Trevor Williams, who did not play in the game. Eventually, Pirates reliever Geoff Hartlieb was able to get the final three outs in an 11-4 win for his team, but not before one of the most contentious scenes in recent major league history.
In all, six players were ejected, including Puig and Garrett, both of whom were also ejected for their roles in the April brawl. For Pittsburgh, Williams, Archer, Kyle Crick and Francisco Cervelli were tossed.
Traded in the offseason to the Reds from the Los Angeles Dodgers, Puig is now headed to Cleveland. Per reports that emerged Tuesday evening, the Cuban native, along with outfielder Franmil Reyes and Padres pitcher Logan Allen, were moved in a three-team deal that sent all-star pitcher Trevor Bauer to Cincinnati.
For his part, Bauer’s final on-field act for the Indians was hurling a baseball over the wall in center field Sunday — from just off the mound, after he was pulled from a game against the Kansas City Royals.
“Right now, I’m just focused on the negative impact I’ve had on our culture, and our team and organization, and trying to make reparations to the people in this clubhouse and in our organization,” Bauer said after that game. “We’ll handle whatever else comes down the line from there.”
Following Tuesday’s contest, Puig posted a note to social media in which he said, “Since the day I was traded from LA, I felt the love from this city and I’ve enjoyed every moment since then. … Thank you to the entire Reds organization, my teammates and the fans, for all of your support.”
“To the city of Cleveland,” he added, “I look forward to joining the Indians and contributing to a championship season!”
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