In aftermath of suspensions, Cubs feeling a sense of confusion
Major League Baseball added another wrinkle to the Cubs’ wild week Thursday when it announced suspensions for David Ross (one game) and Ryan Tepera (three games).
The two were also fined for “intentionally throwing” at Brewers pitcher Brandon Woodruff in the 5th inning of Tuesday’s game in Milwaukee, according to the release.
Ross served his suspension Friday while Tepera is appealing.
In the aftermath of both the incident in Milwaukee and the subsequent suspensions, the Cubs are left with a lot of emotions — mainly confusion.
“Very surprised [by the suspension],” Tepera said. “To me, there’s really no justification for suspension and fine.”
The Cubs have been very vocal about how upset they are with the Brewers’ gameplan against Willson Contreras. In the first series of the season between the two teams last week, Contreras was hit in the head and in the upper shoulder on back-to-back nights.
Tuesday in Milwaukee, the Cubs catcher was hit in the hand by a Woodruff offering. That’s the seventh time Contreras has been hit by the Brewers since the start of last season.
When Tepera was tasked with facing Woodruff in the 5th inning Tuesday, he threw the first pitch behind Woodruff’s leg and a minor incident ensued. Both teams received warnings but nobody was ejected.
After Contreras was hit the second time last week, he yelled back at the Brewers and pointed toward the mound as both teams’ benches cleared. Contreras revealed later he was fined $7,500 by the league for his actions.
Since the start of the 2020 season, the Cubs have been hit 61 times — more than any team in baseball (the Mets are next closest at 54 HBPs).
“We’ve never intentionally retaliated to my knowledge,” Ross said. “We got hit twice and got warnings in Pittsburgh. We got warnings after we got hit and our catcher got fined a really big amount of money for being upset with getting hit in the head and then getting hit in the shoulder and then he got hit in the hand the other day.
“Our pitcher got thrown up and in [Alec Mills in Tuesday’s game] and we threw one behind a guy’s calf and we got suspensions and fines everywhere. That makes zero sense to me.”
Even if he’s surprised by the suspension, Tepera stands by his actions.
“Instead of me just sitting here and kinda beating around the bush, I just want to be completely honest with regards to Tuesday’s game,” Tepera said. “I believe over time, baseball has changed and to be blunt, today’s game of baseball has become a bit soft. Back in the day, matters were settled on the field — one of the many unwritten rules that have changed over time.
“Typically, it doesn’t bode well in the clubhouse when guys are consistently being thrown at. What happened on Tuesday, there was no malicious intent — it was just a message that we had had enough. At the end of the day, all I can do is sit there and be myself, continue to support my teammates and have their backs and play the game that I know and love.”
Jason Heyward has been one of the Cubs’ vocal leaders in the clubhouse since he joined the team before the 2016 season. He understands why Woodruff and the Brewers were upset over Tuesday’s incident, but he also thinks it was time for the Cubs to step up and protect Contreras.
“At what point do you stand up for your teammate and just say, ‘hey, I know you guys are not doing this intentionally but you hit Willson in the head, you hit him in the hand, you’ve hit him up and in a lot,” Heyward said. “It’s not intentional but still, we’re not gonna sit down and hold your hand and say, ‘hey, can you please stop throwing that close to our guy?’ That’s not a part of the game.
“We understand the scouting report — you’re gonna pitch him how you’re gonna pitch him. If anything, it’s just to say, ‘look, just be more mindful.’ This is someone’s life; this is someone’s career. So you square someone up in the head, you kinda draw the line at some point. If anything, more shame on us if we don’t do something.”
Tepera expects to hear from MLB on his appeal late next week.
Ross said he planned on watching the first part of Friday’s game from the Cubs’ suite at Wrigley Field and then maybe enjoy the rest of his team’s contest against the Braves on TV back home with his children.