It didn’t take the umpires in this past Wednesday’s game with the Atlanta Braves long to get together and decide that Sean Nolin, after firing one pitch behind Freddie Freeman’s back, and then following up with one to Freeman’s hip, had done so intentionally, and the veteran left-hander was tossed from the game just eight pitches in.
It seemed like an obvious response to what appeared to be a purpose pitch the previous night from Braves’ reliever Will Smith to Juan Soto’s ribs, but as per usual, Nolin did not acknowledge that it was intentional in his post game Q&A with reporters.
“I mean, it’s the first inning of the game,” Nolin said, not wholly convincingly, “and obviously it was super-humid out compared to the places we’ve been playing, and just happens, balls slip out of your hand, rosin for me doesn’t do much, but yeah...”
Asked directly if he was sending a message with the pitch, Nolin said clearly, “No, I wasn’t.”
Nolin’s manager, Davey Martinez, was clear that he did not call for retaliation.
“You know what, I talked to him and he said the ball slipped and he tried to go in — said the first one slipped, the second one he tried to go in,” Martinez said.
The fourth-year skipper and the Braves’ slugger talked in front of the Nationals’ dugout after the incident and Martinez said he assured him the directive to throw at him was not sent by him.
“Freddie came over, I talked to him for a minute and he said he was good. I said, ‘Hey, look, I never tell anybody to hit anybody, ever,’” Martinez explained, “and I have the utmost respect for Freddie. I love watching him play, he plays the game the right way, so, it’s all good.”
It was not all good with Major League Baseball.
Before last night’s game, MLB announced a five-game suspension for Nolin and a one-game suspension for Martinez.
Nolin, according to a report from MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, initially, “... appealed his suspension and remains on the active roster until his case is heard,” while Martinez chose to get it over with and served his one-game suspension last night.
The pitcher, according to the report, was also fined an undisclosed amount of money.
Bench manager Tim Bogar handled the managerial duties for the Nationals last night in the series opener with the Pittsburgh Pirates in PNC Park.
Sean Nolin apparently has dropped his appeal and is serving his 5-game suspension beginning tonight.— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) September 10, 2021