Just as Manny Ramirez‘s actions often couldn’t be explained, Alfredo Aceves‘ behavior frequently leaves Red Sox fans scratching their heads. At this rate, there’s going to be a spike in Rogaine sales in the Boston area in 2013.
The Red Sox are once again forced to answer questions regarding Aceves following Saturday’s game, and the right-hander’s every move will most definitely be critiqued from here on out. Even in situations that aren’t all that alarming, Aceves won’t be afforded the benefit of the doubt, and it’s really the direct result of his own wrongdoing.
Recently, Aceves’ behavior has generated plenty of negative feedback. He was suspended last season for conduct detrimental to the team. He was spoken to by manager John Farrell earlier this spring following a rather unusual live batting practice session. And last weekend, he was at the center of an eyebrow-raising melee during the World Baseball Classic.
On Saturday, Aceves found himself in the middle of another dispute. This time, it was Rays infielder Sean Rodriguez who took exception to Aceves’ aggressiveness.
Aceves gave up a monster home run to Rodriguez during the third inning of Saturday’s spring training contest. When Rodriguez came up for his next at-bat in the fifth, Aceves drilled him in the back, leading to a shouting match. Rodriguez had to be restrained, and several Rays players emerged from the first-base dugout before order was restored.
It wasn’t a huge incident by any means, but given Aceves’ recent track record, one couldn’t help but have a, “here we go again,” sort of feeling as everything unfolded in Port Charlotte. And what’s most troubling for the Red Sox is that going forward, any time Aceves is involved in anything that might have the slightest bit of negativity to it, a firestorm is bound to ensue.
Saturday’s incident serves as Exhibit A. If anyone else had drilled Rodriguez, the incident likely would have flown under the radar, even if there were some words briefly exchanged. But because it was the always polarizing Aceves who did the plunking, everyone immediately assumed the worst, and we’re thus faced with another instance of “Alfredo being Alfredo.”
Believe him or not, Aceves said after the game that there was no ill intent on the pitch that hit Rodriguez.
“He got hit, by a pitch. It was obviously not intentional,” Aceves told reporters. “The score was 3-2. Plus, it was a split-finger. Not even a fastball.
“He was mad because he got hit. It was obviously, like I said, not intentional. I understand his last at-bat he hit a homer. He probably thinks it was intentional. Like I said, 3-2 ballgame, you don’t want to get nobody on the bases and tie the game. Plus, like I say, it was a split-finger. I understand he’s probably upset or frustrated.”
Rodriguez was clearly frustrated, and he isn’t alone in that frustration. Aceves is a versatile pitcher who figures to be the Red Sox’ primary spot starter with Franklin Morales out, but the concerns about his behavior overshadow his potential value in the minds of many.
Those within the Red Sox’ organization appear willing to stick by their pitcher despite the troublesome antics. General manager Ben Cherington reportedly said recently that Aceves won’t be released, and Farrell stood by his pitcher after Saturday’s game.
“He said he threw a split and it got away from him,” Farrell said. “I can tell you this: We don’t intentionally look to hit any hitters in any situations. Anytime anybody gets hit, you’re hopeful that nothing happens to the player that did get hit. All I can go by is what I asked Alfredo, and that’s what he told me. I repeat that we’re not looking to hit anybody.”
Perhaps Aceves is telling the truth and he didn’t hit Rodriguez on purpose. It would make sense considering it was only a spring training game, but because a lot of Aceves’ antics don’t have much rhyme or reason, we’re at least left wondering. (Plus, there’s the fact that Rodriguez hit a game-winning home run off Aceves last May.) Whatever the case may be, it’s impossible to get into the mind of Aceves, yet everyone is going to try because his resume is quickly becoming one of the most unique in baseball.
The safe bet is that Alfredo will continue to be Alfredo, for better or worse. Now, we’re all just waiting for his next move.