Joe Torre – former Brave, former Braves manager – is MLB’s chief baseball officer. He’s the guy who metes out penalties. Before he decides what to do with Jose Urena (although I expect he has a pretty good idea already), I’d suggest Torre watch the video, but not so much the video of the Urena pitch that hit Ronald Acuna; watch instead the tape of Brian Snitker’s postgame address.
Snitker is 62, a baseball lifer, an unassuming guy who has seen everything twice and doesn’t get riled easily. Anger slipped through in his comments Wednesday night, but the prevailing emotion was sadness. He was sad for what happened, sad for Acuna, sad for baseball writ large.
Snitker: “I think it’s pretty evident what I thought about it. (Indeed, he was ejected after forceful on-field remonstrations.) You know, that’s a shame. This young man (Acuna) is just playing the game, doing what he loves to do – and it’s a damn shame what happened that first pitch of the game.”
Then: “It’s just … it’s beyond … I don’t know. I’ve had three hours to calm down, and all of a sudden I’m not real good right now.”
Then: “He’s … he’s my kid. I’m going to protect him.”
Then: “I’m not sure I’ve ever been … I’m not sure I’ve ever felt like that in a baseball game. That was just my emotion. That kid didn’t deserve that.”
Then: “I’m not looking for an ejection (for himself). That’s the farthest thing from my mind. I couldn’t care if they left me in the game, threw me out. I’m just thinking this young kid got hit, and it was obviously intentional. Like I say, he’s one of mine.”
Then: “They made ultimately the right decision (ejecting Urena) – because it was obvious that that was intended to hit him, and there was just no reason for a young man to be hit like that when all he’s doing is just playing the game. He’s not doing anything to show anybody up. He’s playing the game.
Then: “As I’ve said, he’s a young, talented kid. That’s a shame that that happened. What happens if they hit him here and it breaks his elbow and he’s done for the year? And what we’re trying to accomplish here, and where we’re at – there’s no reason for that. Heck, this is a game. My God. Like I say, I had three hours to calm down and now I’m getting worked up.”
Then: “You know what you do (if you’re Urena)? You throw a breaking ball. You don’t want him to hit your fastball, you throw a breaking ball. There’s ways to get the kid out. I mean, you throw fastballs down the middle and he hits them out, what do you expect the kid to do? I mean, my God. That’s just completely, unbelievably uncalled for.”
Snitker wasn’t sure as to the extent of Acuna’s injury. After being plunked with Urena’s first pitch, the Braves outfielder had to exit before the second inning. Snitker said he believed the cause was cramping of the forearm, and that the area of impact wasn’t the point of the elbow. He said the Braves will know more today, but he indicated that he’d been given no reason to believe the diagnosis would be dire.
He also said: “This wasn’t a fun night.” And it wasn’t. It was a shameful night. Joe Torre needs to do the right thing and suspend Urena for more than one start. Fifteen days sounds about right.
Update: The Braves announced Thursday that a CT scan of Acuna’s elbow showed no damage. He’s listed as day-to-day.