Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly has been suspended for eight games by MLB after appearing to aim a fastball at Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman and taunting Carlos Correa in a fiery showdown.
Tempers flared on Tuesday in the first game between the Dodgers and the Astros since the conclusion of MLB's sign-stealing investigation involving Houston.
The Astros were found to have stolen signs in 2017, the season in which they beat the Dodgers after seven games the World Series.
Los Angeles won 5-2 in their first visit to Minute Maid Park since the 2017 World Series, but the benches cleared in the sixth inning shortly after Kelly sent a pitch just past Bregman's head.
Kelly also argued with Astros All-Star Correa – who he struck out – prompting the teams to come together in scenes of some concern to MLB, which is attempting to deal with a coronavirus outbreak within the Miami Marlins clubhouse.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts revealed the league had called him to announce its displeasure, while it investigated Kelly's role in the fracas.
Ahead of the teams playing again on Wednesday, it was confirmed Kelly had been banned for eight games, although he has appealed and will be available to face the Astros.
Roberts was given a one-game suspension, which he agreed to serve in the Houston game, while Astros counterpart Dusty Baker was fined.
Joe Kelly has been suspended for eight games by MLB. He is appealing and available for tonight’s game. Dodger Manager Dave Roberts will serve his one-game suspension tonight and Bob Geren will serve as manager.— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) July 29, 2020
Referring to worries about social distancing amid the Marlins' crisis, Roberts said of his call with MLB: "They weren't pleased. In baseball right now, we're under a microscope - which we should be.
"Us as coaches - myself included - have to do a better job at making sure guys stay on the bench.
"Last night when tempers flared, I tried to get out there to keep it at bay and minimise it, but I've also got to make sure guys stay on the bench to follow the social distancing protocols."
He added: "I'm going to talk to the guys today briefly about leaving the bench. Major League Baseball is really serious about this, as well as they should be.
"I've got to reiterate to guys how important it is, at any cost, to stay on the bench."
However, Roberts also felt such an incident was inevitable given the outcome of MLB's investigation.
"I think it released [tensions]," he said. "This is something that has been built up over the course of seven months after the findings. It sort of released.
"It was unfortunate, but, I guess, to spin it: it's a good thing that we got it out of the way and nobody was hurt and we can move on and play baseball."
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