Hernandez ejected after fracas

Hernandez ejected after fracas

DETROIT -- Seven men out.

That was the number of ejections after a fracas between the Royals and the Detroit Tigers Sunday at Comerica Park.

Runelvys Hernandez had pitched five shutout innings before hitting the Tigers' Carlos Guillen in the batting helmet as the sixth began. The incident escalated into a melee and umpires ejected six players and Royals manager Buddy Bell.

Initially, Guillen argued that Hernandez had hit him in the foot with a pitch, a plea that plate umpire Marty Foster rejected. On the next pitch, Guillen was struck in the head.

Bell said he was convinced that Hernandez did not throw intentionally at Guillen.

"I talked to Runelvys and asked him honestly to tell me if he was throwing at him. And he looked me right in the eye and he said, 'No.' I do believe that," Bell said.

"Because if it was done on purpose, we don't condone that, we don't appreciate that. ... But I honestly believe that didn't happen."

Guillen felt dizzy after being beaned and was taken for X-rays and a CAT scan. Results were negative, the Tigers said. He accompanied the team to Chicago.

"I didn't try to hit anybody. I tried to keep my same concentration to pitch seven or six innings," Hernandez said.

"I feel sorry about that, but I didn't try to do it on purpose."

Hernandez, Bell and Guillen were ejected along with the Royals' Emil Brown and Alberto Castillo and the Tigers' Kyle Farnsworth and Jeremy Bonderman.

Naturally, the Tigers' view was somewhat different.

"I think that's absolutely wrong, throwing at somebody's head. If I hit somebody in the head, I expect someone to do the same thing," Bonderman said.

"You stand up for your teammates because you can end a guy's career throwing at somebody's head. He might say he did it on accident, but he still did it. In my opinion, it was totally intentional and you just don't throw at somebody's head."

The sixth-inning ruckus can be traced to the first inning when Hernandez hit two batters, Brandon Inge and Chris Shelton.

"Inge had two strikes on him. You look at our book and it says, 'Go in hard.'" catcher John Buck said. "We hit him, oops. And the other guy, it was 1-1 or 1-2 again, and the book says go in on him, too."

In the second inning, Tigers pitcher Mike Maroth hit David DeJesus with a pitch and Foster issued a cease-and-desist warning to both dugouts.

"Runelvys was trying to pitch inside to both those guys and then Maroth hits DeJesus on purpose," Bell said.

Hernandez was cruising, allowing just two singles. When Guillen was struck, he approached Hernandez. They were restrained but, as tension mounted, players spilled onto the field from both dugouts and bullpens. There was some shoving and struggling but the situation looked under control.

   Jose Lima  /   P
Born: 09/30/72
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 205 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

Mike Sweeney and Jose Lima calmed Guillen at first base and peace seemed at hand.

"When I saw the [fracas] I wanted to jump in but I saw Guillen with his helmet and the crowd right there. I told him, '1. If you're going to fight, you're going to fight me.' And '2. You just came out of knee surgery. Think about your kids. Don't go out there and jeopardize your career,'" Lima said.

Then, according to Sweeney, more words were exchanged between Hernandez and Guillen.

Farnsworth, sprinting around the pack of milling players, charged toward the Royals dugout and tackled Jeremy Affeldt.

"He was just seeing red, I guess," Affeldt said.

The two had encountered each other in the earlier scrum.

"The first time we got in a pile, I was bumped by him a little from behind and I just turned to him and said, 'Hey, hey, hey, take it easy,' and I just kind of put my hand on his chest and he pushed me a little bit and I pushed him back just to say, 'Hey, take it easy,'" Affeldt said.

"He asked me if I wanted to fight and I said, 'No.' I wasn't in any mood to fight, really."

At one point, Affeldt had his neck pinned between Buck and Tigers coach Lance Parrish, who were grappling on top of him. The Tigers' Magglio Ordonez helpfully pulled Affeldt away.

"And I took a cleat in the mouth just because Magglio was pulling me out," Affeldt said.

Castillo and Brown were mystified by their ejections, saying they were acting as peacemakers.

"It's tough being a model citizen, man," Brown said. "I saw some guy get mugged and I tried to stop the mugger. I was being a Good Samaritan."

Brown believes he'll be cleared when Major League Baseball reviews tapes of the incident.

Castillo testified he was helping calm down Guillen when he was grabbed by first base umpire Laz Diaz and told to get out of the way.

"Guillen says, 'I feel kind of dizzy.' I was trying to tell Guillen, 'Let's go back to the dugout and get some ammonia on your face and that way you can relax a little bit,'" Castillo said.

"Laz was the one that grabbed me from behind. Why did I get thrown out? I didn't throw any punches, I didn't do anything."

Because of the earlier warnings, the ejections of Hernandez and Bell were automatic. Bell declared that the umpires handled the situation very well.

"It was a typical baseball fight," Bell said. "I just hope Guillen is OK. I think we've all been hit in the head at one time or another. It's sad. I just hope he'll be OK and I'm sure he will be. We don't wish that on anybody."

   Runelvys Hernandez  /   P
Born: 04/27/78
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 205 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

Hernandez, who was working on one of the best games of his career, repeated there was no intent to hit Guillen.

"If you see the video, Buck called the pitch outside. C'mon. We're trying to win. I didn't try to hit anybody. I'm not that kind of pitcher," Hernandez said.

"I always throw inside. But I made a mistake. Buck called the pitch outside and I made a mistake. I feel sorry about that."

The Tigers weren't buying.

"I don't have any problem with guys coming inside, brushing guys back, moving our feet, I mean, that's the game of baseball," Craig Monroe said.

"But when you start playing with people's lives, throwing at their heads, throwing 90-some miles per hour, it's personal. There's no more baseball. It's man to man. That situation, that's how we all took it. No, that's no accident. When you're throwing at a guy's head, that's no accident."

The incident was reminiscent of the Royals' last major brawl, also with the Tigers, on Aug. 10, 2001, at Kansas City. Sweeney, enraged by an insult from pitcher Jeff Weaver, charged the mound.

And like that ruckus, there will be an aftermath this time. Fines and/or suspensions are sure to follow.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.