SEATTLE -- Indians starter Jeanmar Gomez insists that he did not intentionally hit Mike Moustakas with a pitch during Saturday's game in Kansas City, but Major League Baseball viewed things differently and dished out some punishment.
Gomez received a five-game suspension and an undisclosed fine from the league on Wednesday for hitting the Royals' third baseman with a pitch in the third inning of Cleveland's 11-9 victory. Gomez will appeal the suspension and is scheduled to start this coming Saturday in a road start against the A's.
"We respect the league's decision," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "We're going to make the proper adjustments. Gomez is going to appeal, he's going to pitch on Saturday against Oakland, and then probably after that he'll drop it and pitch again."
If Gomez drops the appeal as anticipated, he would be eligible to return to the Indians' rotation for a home start against the Angels on April 28. The right-hander said he was caught off guard by the news that MLB decided to punish him for his part in Saturday's bench-clearing incidents in Kansas City.
"I was surprised about that," Gomez said. "It wasn't intentional. I was trying to throw to the inside corner."
The pitch in question came a half-inning after Tribe right fielder Shin-Soo Choo was hit in the right knee by an offering from Royals lefty Jonathan Sanchez. Last June, Sanchez shattered Choo's left thumb with a pitch, causing the right fielder to miss more than six weeks of the season. After the latest plunking, Choo had some choice words for Sanchez, and the benches emptied at Kauffman Stadium.
During both altercations on the field, Indians third baseman Jack Hannahan was in the thick of things, though he did not throw any punches. Acta, Gomez and Hannahan were ejected from the game. The third baseman was hit with a $500 fine from MLB, but he does not plan on appealing.
Hannahan had no issues with Gomez's actions.
"It's not like he was throwing at his head or anything like that," Hannahan said. "He was just protecting his position players. That's what pitchers are supposed to do. I was surprised that no one on Kansas City was ejected or fined, but it's baseball. You live and learn."
That said, Hannahan added that he does not expect the Indians and Royals will have bad blood in future meetings.
"That's the good thing about baseball," Hannahan said. "You can get it over and done with in one game."
Indians closer Chris Perez was also hit with a $750 fine, but his punishment had nothing to do with the on-field events. Perez was fined for a postgame message on his Twitter account Saturday night, which read: "Huge team win tonight, time for a sweep of the Royals. It's not "Our Time', it's TribeTime. P.S. You hit us, we it you. Period."
Duncan thrilled to have Damon on board
SEATTLE -- Indians left fielder Shelley Duncan is not worrying about how the recent signing of veteran outfielder Johnny Damon might affect his playing time. Right now, Duncan is simply thrilled that a player of Damon's ability is going to be joining the ballclub.
"I couldn't be happier to have a guy like him as a teammate," said Duncan, who played with Damon on the Yankees from 2007-09. "It's premature and irresponsible for people to say certain things are going to happen [in regards to playing time].
"I have all my trust, and everybody on this team has a trust, that [manager Manny Acta] puts the best nine on the field to win that ballgame each day. I want that. Every day I play with that attitude. If I'm not hitting good, I shouldn't be in the lineup, because other guys can help this team win."
Entering Wednesday's game with the Mariners, Duncan was hitting .333 with two home runs and six RBIs through nine games as Cleveland's starting left fielder. He can also provide depth at first base or designated hitter. When Damon joins the team -- likely in early May -- he figures to garner most of his at-bats in left field.
The 38-year-old Damon, who hit .261 with 16 home runs and 73 RBIs in 150 games for Tampa Bay last year, is currently training at Cleveland's complex in Goodyear, Ariz. He officially signed a Minor League contract with the Tribe on Tuesday, which will allow him to build up his baseball activities in preparation for joining the big league team.
Duncan said he feels Damon will be an asset to the team.
"When I was in New York," Duncan said, "when I first got called up in 2007, he was one of the first ones to really embrace me and make me feel comfortable and make me feel part of the team. I'll be forever grateful for that. Watching him on a day-to-day basis, I learned a lot."
Hagadone returns to bigs with family watching
SEATTLE -- When Nick Hagadone learned he was heading back to the big leagues, that was special enough. The fact that he was going to be joining the Indians in his hometown of Seattle made the promotion all the more memorable.
"It was perfect," Hagadone said.
On his first day back in the Tribe's bullpen -- Hagadone spent nine games with Cleveland last season -- the 26-year-old lefty was pressed into duty earlier than expected. With starter Justin Masterson struggling, and the Indians faced with an 8-1 hole in the fourth inning on Tuesday night, Tribe manager Manny Acta put the ball in Hagadone's hands.
With his parents and wife in the Safeco Field seats, Hagadone spun 1 1/3 shutout innings, setting the tone for a strong showing for the bullpen. Cleveland relievers combined to blank Seattle's bats over 5 1/3 innings, giving the offense time to rally for a 9-8 win.
"He threw well," Acta said, "especially considering he's a hometown guy and he was pitching in front of his family. He was able to keep his emotions in check. He was a little bit scattered around the strike zone, but guys chased those pitches and he got out of it.
"He gave us a huge lift, because Masterson not being able to go deeper in the game, and Nick coming in and stopping the bleeding right there was huge for us."
Hagadone was recalled from Triple-A Columbus on Tuesday after the Indians placed shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera on baseball's bereavement list. Cabrera, who is home in Venezuela, is not expected back with the team until Tuesday. In the meantime, Hagadone has a chance to show the Indians that he can help the big league bullpen.
"Ideally, we want him to be able to command his fastball better," Acta said. "But, hey, he's a guy that we feel can compete up here in the big leagues. He was one of the last cuts in Spring Training. We wouldn't be afraid to keep him up here, or to bring him up here and have him be a part of our bullpen if the situation arises."
Quote to note
"He's a very solid baseball player. On and off the field, he's great. I'm excited. He's going to be good for everybody in the clubhouse. He's going to be good for the team." --Indians outfielder Shelley Duncan, on the recently signed Johnny Damon
Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore, who is on the 60-day disabled list following March surgery on his lower back, has been cleared to initiate baseball activities next week. He has started a light jogging routine and continues to work on core and back strengthening drills. Lefty David Huff (15-day DL due to right hamstring injury) is scheduled to start for Double-A Akron on Friday.
The Indians have set a franchise record this year by scoring at least eight runs scored in each of their first four road games. That marks the longest such streak in baseball since the 2003 Yankees accomplished the same feat. According to STATS LLC, the last team to score at least eight runs in their first five road games was the 1896 Pirates (six games).
The Indians' seven-run comeback in Tuesday's 9-8 win over the Mariners represented the largest come-from-behind win on the road for the Tribe since the team came back from a nine-run hole to beat the Royals, 15-13, on Aug. 23, 2006. It was the biggest comeback win overall for the Indians since erasing a 10-run deficit against the Rays en route to an 11-10 win on May 25, 2009.
The Indians scored seven runs in the fifth inning Tuesday, giving the Tribe a frame of at least five runs in four straight games. That is the first such streak for Cleveland since it turned the same trick four games in a row from May 27-30, 1921.