Springer, Garner suspended for throwing at Bonds

HOUSTON -- Houston pitcher Russ Springer was suspended for four games Friday after throwing several times at Barry Bonds and eventually hitting the San Francisco star earlier this week.

Astros manager Phil Garner was suspended for one game and fined an undisclosed amount by Major League Baseball.

The strange sequence Tuesday began when Bonds led off the fifth inning of the Giants' 14-3 win. Springer's first pitch went behind the seven-time NL MVP's back, drawing a warning from plate umpire Joe West.

The next three pitches all came inside, including one that hit Bonds' bat handle for strike one. On the fifth pitch of the at-bat, Springer hit Bonds in the right shoulder. Springer and Garner were then ejected, and the Houston crowd gave Springer a standing ovation. Bonds took his base without incident.

"I don't think that Russ was throwing at him," Garner said. "I think that the first couple of pitches were indicative of him trying to get the ball in on him.

"Obviously when you hit a guy in the shoulder it doesn't look good. But he was trying to pitch it in. We hadn't been able to get the balls where we wanted to," he said.

Bonds has hit 713 home runs, one shy of matching Babe Ruth for second place on the career list. Hank Aaron holds the record of 755, and many people believe Bonds' accomplishments are tainted because of alleged steroids use.

Giants manager Felipe Alou said he thinks the suspension sends a message.

"I'm glad some people thought the guy was throwing at Barry," Alou said. "The guy behind the plate thought he was throwing at him and ejected him. And now the league office thinks so. Anything was enough."

Garner said the Astros won't appeal and Springer will begin serving his suspension Friday night when the Astros host the Texas Rangers.

Springer remained in Louisiana with his wife Friday after leaving Houston on Tuesday night to be with her for scheduled surgery. Garner said the recovery of Springer's wife was a factor in his decision not to appeal the ruling.

"We were in agreement that he should just go ahead and serve it," Garner said. "It's important that he be there."

Garner is scheduled to serve his suspension Monday when Houston plays at Washington.

He asked league officials if he could put his suspension off until Monday because he wanted to be with the team as it tries to recover from a recent slump. Houston has lost 10 of its last 13 games.

"I feel like the ballclub is struggling a little bit," he said. "I feel like I needed to be here this weekend."

Garner refused to discuss whether he thought Springer's punishment was too severe.

"It is what it is," he said. "It's done and over with. Let's move on. There's no recourse, so let's go."

But a fellow member of the bullpen didn't shy away from sharing his opinion.

"I think it's pretty sharp," Astros closer Brad Lidge said. "I think that the warning came too quick, too. I just have a hard time thinking that if that was anyone else standing in there and a guy threw a slider behind him, he's going to get a warning immediately.

"The penalty for it doesn't see justified to me. Knowing Russ, he's very surprised because he did not mean to hit him," he said.

Giants reliever Steve Kline wasn't sure what to think about the

"I got four for bumping an umpire last year," Kline said. "I bumped my coach into him. It might be too much. I don't know if he did it on purpose or not. Who am I to judge? I'm just a relief pitcher."