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Wednesday, May 24
Suspensions believed to be most for one fight

NEW YORK -- Dodgers manager Davey Johnson was stunned by the decision to suspend 16 players and three coaches for their roles in the May 16 fight with Cubs fans in the stands at Wrigley Field.

"It's a way of handicapping the Dodgers," Johnson said after Wednesday's announcement.

The 19 suspensions, which the commissioner's office thinks is the most ever in baseball stemming from one altercation, were issued by Frank Robinson, baseball's new vice president of on-field operations.

All the suspensions will be appealed, with none served until that process is completed. The suspensions total 60 missed games for players and 24 for coaches.

"I think it's way out of line," said Johnson, a former Baltimore teammate of Robinson's. "He's saying who my players play against and who they don't play against. Fifteen of our 25 are going to miss games, and the coaches I count on."

One of the 16 players involved, pitcher Onan Masaoka, was sent down to Triple-A Albuquerque on Monday.

Dodgers chairman Bob Daly said the appeal wasn't just for the sake of appearance. "We're doing this not for a delay, we're doing this because we think it's unfair," Daly said. "We really believe that the penalty is awfully stiff. We believe the players and coaches deserve a full review. I have a fundamental problem that somebody is dictating who we play against certain teams, deciding who we play against Arizona or Atlanta."

Johnson hopes the appeals spur a more extensive investigation of the fight, which began when catcher Chad Kreuter, who was sitting in the bullpen, went after a fan who hit him and stole his cap. Fans and Dodgers then converged in the stands.

"It's very unfair as far as I'm concerned," Johnson said. "My whole coaching staff was trying to keep our people from getting smoked. Some guys who got suspended didn't even go into the stands. They also didn't talk about security (at Wrigley) and that's disappointing." Los Angeles players decided as a group not to comment on the suspensions. Kreuter drew the longest player suspension -- eight games. Third base coach Glenn Hoffman, bullpen coach Rick Dempsey and first base coach John Shelby also were suspended for eight games.

"We're going to appeal it. We're stunned by it. We thought it was kind of harsh," Hoffman said. "The appeal process will go on. We go from there."

Agent Scott Boras, who represents Kreuter and three other suspended players -- Darren Dreifort, Chan Ho Park and Eric Gagne -- said Kreuter was hit hard by the fan who took his cap.

"I don't think the tape showed the fans doing a lot of the things that were done before it got to the point where it showed Chad grabbing the fan," Boras said. "Chad tried to get back on the field, but by then, he was hit a number of times and one fan spat on him."

Boras said Kreuter did not intend to get involved with the fan, and questioned the lack of security people in the area.

"Chad was hit in the back of the head with such force that his chin hit his chest," Boras said. "Whatever response he had came in the context of he had been battered and he was trying to recover his property."

Cubs first baseman Mark Grace agreed that security was needed, saying he didn't want baseball parks to have metal detectors or similar security measures.

"But by the same token, you want players and fans alike to be safe. Monica Seles probably wasn't expecting to get stabbed," Grace said before Chicago's game against the Rockies in Denver. "I've seen crazy fans. I think this was just a case of one apple spoiling the bunch.

"I think the best solution is kick the heck out of him. But you don't need the whole team to do it. Find a security guard and let him do it."

The commissioner's office will decide when the suspensions, if upheld on appeal, would be served, and the suspensions would be staggered so as to not remove more than three players from the team at one time.

Four of the Dodgers drawing suspensions are regulars: left fielder Gary Sheffield (five games), first baseman Eric Karros (three games), right fielder Shawn Green (three games) and catcher Todd Hundley (three games).

"We're talking about we have 119 games left and I'm essentially going to be missing a player or coach for 84 of them," Johnson said, using math that assumed only one suspension at a time. "That's excessive. I'd rather forfeit a couple of games at Wrigley and not lose players."

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Basebrawl result: 16 suspensions for 82 total games

Robinson hears appeals of three Tigers involved in April brawl

 Davey Johnson feels the penalty was out of line.
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 Rick Dempsey felt it was unfair to punish players keeping the peace.
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 Dodger chairman Bob Daly discusses the stiff ruling.
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