CHICAGO — If the Indians and White Sox are about to enter the Old Testament chapter of baseball — the eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth installment — Franmil Reyes has a message.
“If any of our players get hit, this is personal,” said Reyes following a 6-4 loss to the White Sox on Friday night. “I take no (expletive) on (getting hit) on purpose. I’m sorry about that.
“We’re not going to try to hit nobody on purpose. Me, personally, I’m not taking anything on (getting hit) on purpose. It’s a big problem if they hit me. That’s all I got. I’m sorry.”
Reyes, who hit his 20th homer and drove in three runs Friday, kind of invited himself to the postgame Zoom session to deliver that message.
“That’s why I came here,” said the 6-5, 265-pound Reyes.
The Indians and White Sox were tied, 4-4, in the bottom of the eighth when the Indians started kicking and throwing the ball around the infield. Catcher Roberto Perez made a throwing error and was charged with just his second passed ball since 2018. Shortstop Amed Rosario and third baseman Jose Ramirez could have been charged with errors, but instead Leury Garcia and Cesar Hernandez were credited with infield hits.
The only hit that left the infield was Tim Anderson’s single to right that scored Garcia for a 5-4 Chicago lead.
The inning boiled over with the bases loaded when right-hander James Karinchak hit Jose Abreu in the batting helmet with a 96 mph fastball to make it 6-4. Abreu, last year’s AL MVP, went down and Perez went to check on him.
Tony La Russa, Chicago’s 76-year-old manager, ran out of the dugout to check on Abreu. He didn’t like that Perez was near Abreu and pushed him away. The two started arguing, which brought acting manager DeMarlo Hale onto the field from the Indians dugout to get between them as the benches and bullpens emptied.
When Abreu reached first base, Reyes told him the Indians weren’t throwing at him on purpose.
“I told him, ‘first of all you know how much this team loves you,'” said Reyes. “We’re not trying to hit you right there. Nobody would do that. A player like that who is never with a bad attitude. Nobody would do that.”
A concerned Karinchak, meanwhile, squatted on the front of the mound in dismay. He eventually tapped fists with Abreu before Nick Wittgren relieved and struck out the side in order.
In the first inning, Lance Lynn, Chicago’s right-hander, hit Jose Ramirez on the left elbow. In the bottom of the inning, J.C. Mejia hit Abreu in the hip.
The White Sox complained after the game that teams have been throwing inside on Abreu all year. Abreu has been hit 13 times by pitches in 97 games. He was hit three times in the 60-game sprint last year.
Perez said the Indians’ strategy all season has been to pitch Abreu up and in.
“That’s where we pitch him pretty much (all the time),” said Perez. “He’s a good hitter. When he got hit, you could see it on video right away, I went and checked on him. I was even calling their staff to come check on him.
“In the heat of the game, I understand that Tony is trying to pick up his player, but in that situation I’m not trying to hit anybody. (LaRussa) came at me. He pushed me. He shouldn’t have pushed me in the first place. In that situation we’re not trying to hit anybody. But it is what it is. I think they understand.
“I’m sure they thought we were trying to hit Abreu in the first inning, when we hit him with a slider. We didn’t mean to. It was a backup slider from Mejia. There was a lot going on. A lot of heat.”
La Russa told Chicago reporters after the game that he didn’t think the pitch that hit Abreu in the eighth inning was intentional. But he was upset that Indians were calling for pitches up and in when Karinchak was wild.
“The point was that the guy did not have command and it’s scary to call the ball inside,” La Russa said on his postgame Zoom call. “”There was no question it was not intentional. That guy lacked command and it was scary to throw the ball, and if you are going to throw the ball in, get it down. Just a very scary area. That’s what I said.”
Added Anderson, “Definitely we’re upset. You hit our man. You’re brushing guys off the plate the whole game, and of course we’re going to get mad at that situation. That’s one of our big guys. Of course everybody’s going to get mad.”
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