Rangers outfielder Engel Beltre is among seven players suspended for their roles in a benches-clearing brawl.
Beltre received a five-game suspension, California League president Charlie Blaney confirmed this afternoon, as an instigator in the fight that followed his walk-off home run in high Class A Bakersfield's victory over visiting Visalia on Monday. Beltre, whose suspension begins tonight, had words for Visalia players during his home run trot—which ended when the fight broke out as he rounded third base.
Beltre denied any wrongdoing in a local television station report following the game. "That's baseball," he told Bakersfield's ABC-23 affiliate. Blaze manager Bill Haselman concurred: "I don't think Beltre did anything wrong except hit a home run that made them mad."
Blaney, however, saw it differently. He arrived in Bakersfield the following day and reviewed videotape from two local television stations, met with the two umpires working the game and interviewed coaches and players from both teams.
"This is something we will not tolerate," said Blaney, a baseball veteran in his first year as league president. "I received a call from the umpires after the game and I said, 'Hold the phone. I will be there first thing in the morning.' "
The other two players suspended for Bakersfield are catchers Chris Gradoville (four games) and Doug Hogan (three games). They will serve their suspensions separately once Beltre's is completed.
Visalia had four players suspended: catcher Chris Davis (five games) and righthander Billy Spottiswood (4 games) will begin their suspensions tonight. Outfielder Alfredo Marte and righthander Christian Beltre will each serve three game suspensions after Davis and Spottiswood return.
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