AUG. 19: Gibaut’s suspension was reduced to two games and he has dropped his appeal, the Rangers announced. He’ll begin serving the ban tonight.
AUG. 18: Major League Baseball has suspended Rangers right-hander Ian Gibaut three games and manager Chris Woodward one game for a controversial incident Monday that saw Gibaut throw behind Padres star Manny Machado. Gibaut and Woodward were also both fined. Gibaut is appealing his suspension while Woodward will serve his suspension for today’s game.
During Monday’s game, the Padres were leading the Rangers 10-3 in the eighth inning when Fernando Tatis Jr. came to the plate with the bases loaded. Tatis swung on a 3-0 pitch from Juan Nicasio that resulted in a grand slam, prompting Gibaut to replace Nicasio on the mound. Machado was the next batter up after Tatis, and Gibaut’s first pitch to Machado was behind the third baseman’s back. No ejections or warnings were issued after the pitch, though the umpiring crew did meet on the field to discuss the situation.
After the game, Woodward told MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell and other reporters that wasn’t pleased by Tatis’ swing. “There’s a lot of unwritten rules that are constantly being challenged in today’s game. I didn’t like it, personally,” Woodward said. “You’re up by seven [runs] in the eighth inning; it’s typically not a good time to swing 3-0. It’s kind of the way we were all raised in the game. But, like I said, the norms are being challenged on a daily basis, so — just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s not right.”
Even Tatis’ own manager Jayce Tingler wasn’t entirely pleased, noting that Tatis missed a take sign on the pitch. “He’s young, a free spirit and focused and all those things. That’s the last thing that we’ll ever take away. But it’s a learning opportunity,” Tingler said.
Woodward and Tingler each received widespread criticism for their comments, with Woodward’s citation of baseball’s “unwritten rules” drawing particular derision. Many current and past players (including such legends as Reggie Jackson and Johnny Bench) have defended Tatis, with Cardinals ace Jack Flaherty providing perhaps the most succinct counterpoint: “Don’t like it… don’t fall behind 3-0, pretty simple.“
The suspensions to both Gibaut and Woodward indicate a clear feeling on the part of the league that the pitch to Machado was intentional, and to that end, it is somewhat surprising that Woodward only received one game (if the league felt he directed Gibaut to throw behind Machado). MLB has taken a generally stricter line for on-field discipline this year as part of their health and safety procedures, though this particular incident didn’t lead to anything like a brawl or even an open argument between the two teams.