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BASEBALL FINES Piazza, Mota receive 5-game suspensions



Published: Fri, March 21, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



The two were involved in a bench-clearing brawl last week.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Mike Piazza and Guillermo Mota will get a little time off to think about whether their run-in was worth it.

The New York Mets' All-Star catcher and the Los Angeles reliever each were suspended for five games and fined Monday for their roles in a bench-clearing brawl last week during an exhibition game.

Baseball disciplinarian Bob Watson had asserted he would put an end to the recent rash of spats at spring training. Piazza's trip into the Dodgers' clubhouse looking for Mota certainly added to the penalty.

The suspensions will start on opening day unless they are appealed. Piazza was fined $3,000 and Mota was docked $1,500, while Mets outfielder Jeromy Burnitz was fined $500 by Watson.

"Naturally I'm disappointed in the ruling," Piazza said in a statement. "I have seven days to weigh my options. I plan to use that time to decide what course of action I will take."

May wait a week

Piazza could wait a week before filing an appeal, making it more likely he'd be able to play on opening day. Watson, however, could try to speed up the process and push for a hearing before the Mets' opener March 31 at home against the Chicago Cubs.

"We just heard the ruling from the commissioner's office and we plan to support Mike in whatever course of action he decides to take," Mets general manager Steve Phillips said.

Piazza and Mota got into trouble Wednesday night at Port St. Lucie, Fla., after the Mets' star was hit by a pitch. The problems continued when Piazza went searching for Mota, who had already left.

Earlier this spring, Watson suspended Montreal outfielder Vladimir Guerrero for three games, Expos infielder Jose Macias for two and Florida pitcher Brad Penny for five for their roles in a fight.

Also last week in exhibition play, All-Stars Luis Gonzalez and Bret Boone were hit in a brushback duel between Arizona and Seattle, Houston's Shane Reynolds threw close to Pittsburgh's Brian Giles in a heated game and Philadelphia pitcher Jose Mesa threatened to "kill" former Cleveland teammate Omar Vizquel.

Bad history between them

Piazza and Mota had a bad history between them -- last year in spring training, Piazza was fined $3,000 by Watson for grabbing Mota by the shirt after being hit by a pitch.

This time, Mota's first pitch to Piazza was inside. The next one hit Piazza behind the left shoulder, and he rushed the mound.

Mota threw his glove at Piazza, began backpedaling and ran away from him. Both dugouts emptied, Piazza was restrained on the mound by several Dodgers and the Mets made a wild charge to get Mota, with Burnitz getting tackled by Los Angeles reserve Mike Kinkade.

Mota said he would talk with his agent, Adam Katz, about whether to appeal. The pitcher wouldn't say if he thought the suspension was fair.




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