Yanks' Cabrera leaning toward appeal
Action likely would allow center fielder to start Opening Day
TAMPA, Fla. -- Yankees outfielder Melky Cabrera said he is leaning toward appealing the three-game suspension levied upon him for his actions in Wednesday's bench-clearing incident.
"I'm going to do something about it," Cabrera said. "I want to start Opening Day in New York."
Cabrera, 23, was disciplined for "violent and aggressive actions" during the fracas, according to Bob Watson, Major League Baseball's vice president of on-field operations.
The Rays claimed that Cabrera hit Rays infielder Evan Longoria in the back of the head during the fracas, which sparked when the Yankees' Shelley Duncan slid spikes-high into second baseman Akinori Iwamura.
"That needed to end up in discipline," Rays manager Joe Maddon said Friday. "That is inappropriate to sneak up from behind somebody and hit them in the back of the head. Nobody is going to agree that is the right thing to do. I'm pleased they caught all of that in the video, and that is appropriate action."
Cabrera said on Saturday that he did not hit anybody.
"I just tried to push some guy because I don't want to fight," Cabrera said. "I just came to play baseball."
Rays right fielder Jonny Gomes charged into Duncan and hit him from behind, clearing both benches and bullpens at Progress Energy Park in St. Petersburg, Fla. Gomes was suspended for two games and fined, while Duncan and Cabrera were each suspended for three games. Yankees manager Joe Girardi and coaches Kevin Long and Bobby Meacham were also fined.
Duncan said that he has not decided if he will appeal.
Cabrera said that he learned of his discipline on Wednesday evening when his agent, Dominic Torres, called him to ask what he had done. Cabrera said he was "surprised" to hear the news, and that his agent will review the video today.
"We're going to fight the suspension," Cabrera said. "I just came to play baseball. I'm not happy about that at all."
If Cabrera appeals the suspension, he is likely to be the Yankees' Opening Day center fielder on March 31 against the Blue Jays. The switch-hitter batted .273 with eight home runs and 73 RBIs in 150 games for New York last season.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.