Sunday saw the return of Cincinnati Reds left-handed reliever Amir Garrett to the active roster. He had been serving a 5-game suspension from Major League Baseball for “inciting a benches clearing incident” in which he yelled in the general direction of the plate and possibly Cubs hitter Anthony Rizzo that he was back after striking him out. That led to Javier Báez jumping over the railing of the Cubs dugout and challenging Garrett to come fight him, resulting in both benches and bullpens running onto the field with very little actual interaction between the two sides.
“Live and learn”, said Garrett on Sunday. “I learned not to have fun.”
Major League Baseball is supposed to be fun. Baseball is a game, and games are supposed to be fun. I won’t speak for the rest of you, but I will speak for me since I pay a good amount of money every month to keep these digital pages on the internet: Those in charge of Major League Baseball sure don’t seem like they want anyone on the field to have fun. And it’s been that way for a very, very long time. The manner in which Major League Baseball, both among some of the players, and those in charge of the game, police and say what is “acceptable” is very different than the way those things take place in every other country in which the game is played.
“I was surprised that I got 7 games at first,” Garrett said. “We got it reduced to 5. I was surprised I got that many games. Not going to talk about it too much. Not going to throw others under the bus. I think that was kind of steep, 5 games, but it is what it is. I understand they probably wanted to make an example. I’ll be the example, it’s all good, I can take it.”
And that’s kind of what it really feels like. Major League Baseball wanted to make an example out of someone. They wanted to let players know that no, you can not show emotion on the field if the other team feels like you can’t talk a little bit about it. And the punishment, indeed, was steep. But of course it was only steep for one side. Javier Báez, who rushed onto the field literally challenging another player to come fight him, was suspended for zero games.
With all of that out of the way, when Amir Garrett returned to the mound on Sunday it may have felt great to be back out there with the team and on the field, but he probably didn’t realize just how important his inning would turn out to be given that he was trailing 6-1 when he entered. But the lefty did his job and then some as he fired out a perfect inning on 12 pitches with 9 strikes as he struck out two of the three batters he faced. He picked up four swinging strikes along the way.
It was the 5th straight shutout outing for Amir Garrett after a very rough start to the season. Since April 28th he’s struck out 8 of the 18 batters he’s faced and allowed just one hit. He got some help from teammate Wade Miley during the Dodgers series and it’s helped make a big difference in getting back on track.
“It was a mechanical change I was doing,” Garrett said. “I was leaking my front side a lot. When you’re going through these stretches – I was getting hit, after hit, after hit – I was like I don’t give up hits like this especially to left handed hitters. There’s something I’m not seeing or that the hitter’s picking up and I was like this doesn’t happen to me. My biggest role is lefties so far and that doesn’t happen. I went and looked at some video, Wade (Miley) found something and I went to the Dodgers game and I felt it and was like, ‘ok this is a little better’. And after that I started putting some good outings out there. I’ve got to stay down and not leaking so much – hitters are good. They get paid to hit the ball, so just half a second they can see the ball and I was pulling off with my shoulder and it was exposing everything. I have a lot of deception to my ball – that’s why I can throw my slider over the middle of the plate and they will swing over it. For that split second they were able to see it and they were just picking it up and hitting every single thing, so I just had to bare down and take what Wade was telling me and when I was at my best I was staying closed and stuff like that. I don’t know why I was leaking open to start the season, but hopefully that little adjustment will be better from here on out.”