TORONTO â€” Chris Archer said he didn’t mean it. Jose Bautista wasn’t sure. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons expects action from the league either way.
After striking out Kevin Pillar to start Sunday’s game, Archer’s first pitch to Bautista sailed behind the Blue Jays slugger’s back in the first inning.
Bautista responded by glaring down at Archer from the batter’s box as home plate umpire Jim Wolf issued a warning to the Tampa Bay pitcher.
“I would expect there’s got to be some kind of suspension the way they handle things now,” Gibbons said after the game. “If the umpire hadn’t issued a warning he wouldn’t have thought anything was wrong. But since he issued a warning maybe he was (thinking) ‘hey, maybe something’s not right here.’ Maybe he thought there was some intent.
“I would imagine that’s when the league would step up like they do most of the time. I’d be disappointed if they didn’t. You have to maintain that continuity.”
Bautista, who had two hits on the day to reach 1,000 as a Blue Jay in Toronto’s 3-1 win, wasn’t interested in giving any insight into how the league should handle the situation.
Asked if he thinks pitchers need to be better policed when it comes to throwing behind a batter, he simply said: “no.”
And when asked if he thought Archer had any intent behind his particular throw, he responded: “I don’t know.”
Archer, meanwhile, said he was “just trying to go inside” with the errant pitch.
“The ball got away from me a little bit,” he added.
The two teams had some bad blood earlier in the season when shortstop Troy Tulowitzki took issue with a slide at second base by Steven Souza Jr. during their first series this year at Tropicana Field. The incident led to benches clearing on the field but no real altercation.
Toronto reliever Joe Biagini hit Souza with a pitch on the left hand in the seventh inning of Saturday’s Blue Jays win and Souza exited the game. He’s listed as day-to-day with a left hand contusion.
“I don’t get that. I don’t know if it had anything to do with Souza,” Gibbons said. “We had that little dustup down in Florida, but there was nothing there and he had plenty of at-bats (against Toronto) since then. If we were going to do something, I don’t know why we would have.”
Last week, Boston Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes was suspended four games and fined an undisclosed amount for throwing a pitch near the head of Baltimore Orioles star Manny Machado.
Bautista is no stranger to getting plunked, or nearly plunked, by opposing pitchers. Intentional or otherwise, he was hit by a pitch nine times in 2014, five in 2015 and three times last season.
Gibbons has seen Bautista use that as motivation in the past, coming back with big hits afterwards.
“Around the league he’s viewed as a villain, no doubt,” Gibbons said. “That’s because he’s such a good player, he’s burned so many teams. He’s got that edge about him.
“When you know him and you’ve managed him you know what kind of guy he is.”
Melissa Couto, The Canadian Press