Springer won't fight suspension

Springer decides not to fight suspension

HOUSTON -- Appealing a suspension is usually standard practice among Major League Baseball players, but Houston Astros right-hander Russ Springer opted to begin serving his punishment immediately.

Springer was handed a four-game suspension and an undisclosed fine on Friday by Major League Baseball vice president for on-field operations Bob Watson for what Watson described as "intentionally throwing multiple pitches" at San Francisco's Barry Bonds in the fifth inning on Tuesday.

Springer, who insists he was not throwing at Bonds on purpose, thought it best to serve the suspension now, especially considering he's still in Louisiana, tending to his wife, who had gallbladder surgery on Wednesday.

"I think under the circumstances, with the way the media has handled the whole deal, it's probably best to serve it and put it behind us," Springer said. "Plus, my wife could use another day with me at home."

The game was all but over by the time Springer headed to the mound to face Bonds. The Astros were trailing, 12-3, when Springer threw the first pitch behind Bonds, which prompted a warning from the home plate umpire.

Springer followed with three more inside pitches, and the last one hit Bonds on the right shoulder. Springer and manager Phil Garner were ejected.

Springer is disappointed with the way the incident was portrayed in the media and feels the public has a somewhat distorted view of what happened. Springer contended that he was throwing breaking balls to Bonds, trying simply to go inside -- a necessity when facing someone with Bonds' track record.

"I've got a choice," he said. "Pitch away or hard in on the hands. I tried to stay in on him. If I was going to miss, I wasn't going to miss over the plate.

"It's a little disappointing that people would think it would take me five pitches [to hit him]. He was up on the plate, and I just missed."

Teammate Brad Lidge didn't agree with the four-game suspension.

"I think it's too much," he said. "The whole thing started when he came out in a game that was a blowout and threw a first-pitch breaking ball behind Barry Bonds and got a warning. If everytime someone throws a bad breaking ball to a hitter, they get a warning, it's going to be a long year. The warning came too early, and I think everything kind of resulted because of that.

"Russ Springer isn't going to just pitch Barry Bonds away just because he got a warning. You still have to pitch him in. It kind of takes away that ability to pitch him in. Russ is a veteran. He knows that you still have to throw inside."

Springer also addressed the notion that he and Bonds had a "history," which may have prompted this confrontation. Prior to Tuesday's contest, Springer last faced Bonds in 2004 -- and hit him with a pitch. Three years earlier, Bonds homered off him.

"He was 0-for his career against me," Springer said. "He hit a one-arm home run against me when I was pitching with a torn rotator cuff. He should have hit one then.

"The last hit-by-pitch, I hit him in the calf-ankle area. If I'm going to hit him on purpose, I'm not going to hit him on the ankle."

This is the first time Springer has ever been disciplined for an on-field action. He thought the four-game punishment was a bit harsh.

"No one was hurt, there wasn't a brawl, no one on the [Giants] team retaliated," Springer said. "I think it was a little firm, but who am I to argue? It's the first time I've been thrown out or suspended or fined. I've never been disciplined, at any level. That's not such a bad thing."

Springer plans to drive back to Houston on Saturday and will be with the team before the game. He'll be eligible to pitch on Tuesday.

Garner also was handed a suspension -- one game -- and a fine. Garner will serve his suspension on Monday, when the Astros open a four-game series in Washington.

Garner was to serve the suspension on Friday, but he negotiated a deal to move that date back.

"I feel like our ballclub's struggling a little bit," Garner said. "I need to be here for these games [against the Rangers]."

Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.