Rodney suspended for toss into crowd

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Detroit Tigers closer Fernando Rodney has been suspended for three games and fined for throwing a ball toward the stands following a game last week.

The penalty, announced Tuesday by baseball vice president for discipline Bob Watson, comes after Rodney threw a ball toward the seats and into the press box at Tropicana Field following Detroit's 4-3 win at Tampa Bay on Friday night. No one was hit by the ball and Rodney said afterward that he was throwing it to the fans.

Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said Rodney clearly didn't have any intent to injure anyone and will appeal the suspension.

"I cannot condone what Fernando did. That was inappropriate -- you're not supposed to throw the ball into the stands like that and the players know that," he said. "Fortunately, no one got hit, but beyond that it's not like he was upset at anyone other than himself. He wasn't throwing it anyone, he wasn't throwing it in the press box on purpose. He just threw the ball."

Rodney's heave came after he allowed two runs in the ninth inning before closing out his 32nd save. Once it was over, he grabbed the game ball from teammate Miguel Cabrera and hurled it over the screen into the press box, where it crashed off the front row into the back.

Rodney said Tuesday he wasn't trying to hit anyone and thought the suspension was too severe.

"That's surprising. I think if I hit [intentionally] somebody with the ball, then I need to pay the penalty," Rodney said. "I know it's not a good idea to throw the ball into the stands, but it's an emotional time. It's an emotional thing to do."

Tigers manager Jim Leyland didn't see Rodney throw the ball into the stands, but Dombrowski did and called him into the manager's office after the game to tell him his behavior was inappropriate. Dombrowski said Rodney apologized and said he was mad at himself and had let his emotions got the best of him.

Dombrowski also said the length of the suspension was due, in part, to a letter sent to Major League Baseball by the president of the Tampa Bay chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Dombrowski said he was told that the letter from Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times, which he has a copy of, was a "strong" factor in MLB's decision to suspend Rodney.

"What bothers me -- and, again, I don't condone what happened -- was that a lot of it was driven by the letter," Dombrowski said. "He didn't think that Rodney was at all sorry or remorseful. I know Fernando and I know he was remorseful when I spoke to him. He was very, very sorry and it's a shame. He wrote the letter and I wish he would have spoken to me beforehand.

"I do know that without the letter being written, the suspension wouldn't been strong and I don't know that there would be a suspension."

Topkin said he was only following procedure as president of the BBWAA chapter.

"The e-mail was sent to inform MLB media relations officials of what occurred, Rodney throwing the ball into the press box and what he said afterward, as is common practice for a BBWAA chapter chairman when something unusual happens involving the media," Topkin said. "I did not advocate any discipline. This was a decision by MLB officials, and obviously they felt this was a serious matter."