Mesa appeals four-game suspension

Mesa appeals four-game suspension

MIAMI -- Rockies right-handed reliever Jose Mesa filed an appeal on Friday, as soon as he received a four-game suspension from Major League Baseball for hitting the Giants' Omar Vizquel with a pitch on Saturday night.

Mesa, who has a long-running feud with Vizquel, was the only player suspended even though hostilities spilled over into a series of hit batsmen the following day. But Mesa delayed the suspension by filing an appeal through his agent, Mitch Frankel.

That left Mesa eligible to reach a milestone on Friday night against the Marlins. By pitching in the series opener, Mesa is now one of three active right-handers and the 17th pitcher in history to appear in 900 games.

Giants pitcher Matt Morris, ejected from Sunday's game after hitting the Rockies' Matt Holliday and Eli Marrero with pitches on Sunday, and pitching coach Dave Righetti, ejected after throwing his pitch counter near home plate when Morris was thrown out, were fined an undisclosed amount. Rockies pitcher Ray King and the managers, Felipe Alou of the Giants and Clint Hurdle of the Rockies, were ejected during the game, but were not disciplined further.

Mesa contested the suspension because he was not ejected when he hit Vizquel, and he received the only suspension.

"It surprised me, because Morris hit two guys -- he got the warning, then hit the second guy -- and did not get suspended," Mesa said. "I just hit somebody, I don't get a warning, don't get thrown out of the game, don't get nothing, and they still suspended me for four games. So I don't think that's fair.

"I don't know the way they did it, but I don't think the way they did it was the fair way."

"I'm happy just not to be suspended," Morris said before Friday night's Giants game against the Diamondbacks. "They realized the situation and had happened in the past. The made the right decision. It's fair for everybody."

Bob Watson, MLB vice president/on-field operations, declined to comment because of the appeal from Mesa. It was unclear if Morris or Righetti were planning appeals. Any appeals are heard by John McHale, MLB executive vice president, administration.

"It's not for me to comment," said Giants general manager Brian Sabean on Friday. "I have too much respect for Bob Watson, and I'll leave it at that."

Hurdle said he talked to Watson on Friday.

"I'm going to honor [Mesa's] feelings, and if he feels an appeal is what he wants to do ..." Hurdle said. "Bob Watson informed me he thought it would be in everybody's best interest if he just took the four games like a champ and sat down. I told him I appreciated his information and I'd pass that along."

Mesa and Vizquel are former teammates with the Indians and one-time friends. The relationship went sour years ago, and hostilities have escalated since 2002, when Vizquel released an autobiography: Omar! My Life On and Off the Field. In the book, Vizquel criticized Mesa's performance in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series, when Mesa blew a save and the Indians lost to the Marlins.

Here's a chronology:

•In 1998, when they were teammates with the Indians, Vizquel hit a home run off Mesa during an intrasquad game then celebrated by turning a cartwheel as he crossed the plate. Mesa vowed to hit Vizquel at his next opportunity.

•The following year, Mesa, then with Seattle, threw two hard inside pitches, and the two exchanged words.

•In the 2002 biography, Vizquel wrote: "The eyes of the world were focused on every move we made. Unfortunately, Jose's own eyes were vacant. Completely empty. Nobody home. You could almost see right through him. Not long after I looked into his vacant eyes, he blew the save and the Marlins tied the game.''

•Shortly after Vizquel's book hit shelves, Mesa, then with Philadelphia, hit Vizquel in the back with a fastball during a Spring Training game and received a $500 fine.

•In 2003, Mesa told the Bucks County (Pa.) Courier Times, "I wanna kill him." He softened that stance in subsequent interviews.

•Last Saturday, Mesa's first pitch drilled Vizquel on the nameplate on the back of his jersey.

The Rockies and Giants will meet 16 more times. Asked if his feud with Vizquel is over, Mesa said, "What is done is already done. I always say that thing is behind me. I just put it behind me. What was meant to happen, it happened, and we've got to go forward. That thing is over already."

Next time the two meet, "I'll just get him out, plain and simple," Mesa said.

But Mesa would not guarantee he wouldn't hit Vizquel again, not because of the feud, but because he needs the inside part of the plate. Vizquel is 6-for-18 in career matchups with Mesa.

"I always say if you be a hot dog at home plate or talk garbage about me, you're going to see me, but because you get a base hit or hit a home run, I don't think I'd hit anybody for that," Mesa said. "Sometimes you've got to pitch inside. Sometimes when you pitch inside, it happens. Not every time do you get it right on the corner. Sometimes you miss your spot.

"But the inside part of the plate is for the pitcher. If you let the hitter swing away, away, way, they're going to get you. You've got to come inside sometimes."

"I don't really care what happened," Vizquel said. "I think it's kind of stupid that he still thinks about that. It's something that happened a long time ago, and he's still acting like a kid. I'm glad they took some measures and whatever he wants to do next, that's OK, I guess."

Vizquel said he still expects to get hit again.

"What is said, is said and what happened, happened," he said. "He hit me, no big deal. It's part of deal. Just getting hit by a pitch is no big deal. It's just stupidity."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Rick Eymer contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.