Alfredo Aceves’ Participation in WBC Brawl Again Puts Pitcher on Hot Seat, Creates Questions for Red Sox

Alfredo AcevesAlfredo Aceves has seemingly been on thin ice. That ice might have just cracked a little bit more.

Baseball fans were given a strange surprise on Saturday when Canada and Mexico traded punches during their World Baseball Classic showdown. The brawl started after things got a little feisty in the ninth inning.

Mexico pitcher Arnold Leon, upset that Canada catcher Chris Robinson dropped down a bunt single while leading 9-3, twice threw inside at Rene Tosoni. That prompted a warning from home-plate umpire Brian Gorman, but the message was clearly disregarded, as Leon then plunked Tosoni on the shoulder with his third pitch.

From there, chaos ensued, with both teams converging on the middle of the diamond, and skirmishes breaking out off to the side. One of the most visible combatants was none other than Aceves.

In Aceves’ defense, it looked as if he was the victim more than the instigator in this instance, and his rage seemed to be the product of having been wrestled to the ground from behind by Canada outfielder Tyson Gillies. That being said, the right-hander was ejected from the game, and now the Red Sox have to worry about a possible suspension.

FOXSports.com’s Jon Morosi reports that because MLB suspensions apply to the WBC, it seems likely that a WBC suspension could carry over to the MLB season. It’s unclear at this point whether Aceves will be handed a suspension for his participation in the brawl, but the mere possibility has to have the Red Sox a little bit miffed.

Of all the drawbacks that the World Baseball Classic has, a suspension-creating, injury-threatening brawl seemed like the least of anyone’s concern. In fact, one criticism of the WBC has been that some major league players aren’t exactly sold on the idea of the tournament, which has subsequently brought into question the actual compete level displayed throughout the event.

Saturday’s brawl, while showing that the participating players are taking things seriously, will do little to excite MLB executives who watch as their players take time out of MLB spring training to play in the tourney. It certainly captured the Red Sox’ attention, although the organization was likely keeping a watchful eye on the pitcher to begin with.

Aceves’ unusual behavior has often overshadowed how valuable a pitcher he could be. With an ability to both start and work out of the bullpen, Aceves has the potential to be an asset to any pitching staff, but his sometimes questionable behavior immediately raises the question of whether or not he’s worth the hassle.

On the surface, most would probably say, “no.” Aceves was suspended in what was a rather controversial 2012 season, and he turned heads earlier this spring training with some strange antics during a live batting practice session. However, after looking at Aceves’ production — 10-2 with a 2.61 ERA in 55 appearances in 2011 — and the questions that still circle Boston’s big league rotation entering 2013, there’s reason to believe the manager John Farrell and the Sox will still try to see this one out.

What is ultimately working against Aceves, though, is that his services may be becoming less and less required. The Red Sox appear to have a ton of bullpen depth, and the team’s most notable up-and-coming hurlers, Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster, have looked as though they’re ready for a big league call-up if something goes awry within the major league rotation.

If there was one good thing to come out of Saturday’s crazy brawl, it was that Aceves’ Red Sox teammates seem to have his back, as they reportedly cheered him on while watching the madness unfold on TV in Fort Myers. But that has never really been much of a question, and Aceves’ future will instead come down to whether or not the club thinks his value on the mound is worth the risk of any more random acts of controversial behavior in the future.

Aceves hasn’t fallen through the ice yet, but the weather is warming up and he needs to find stable ground fast.

Have a question for Ricky Doyle? Send it to him via Twitter at @TheRickyDoyle or send it here.

Click here to see the huge brawl >>

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