By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — Yasiel Puig made his exit, stage right, a memorable one Tuesday night in Great American Ball Park, fists flying and words spewing.
Although the trade won’t be announced officially until Wednesday, the Cincinnati Reds traded Puig to the Cleveland Indians and acquired pitcher Trevor Bauer. It was a three-team trade that also sends the Reds No. 1 prospect, outfielder Taylor Trammell, to the San Diego Padres.
And Puig’s exit?
The long-simmering hot blood between the Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates boiled way over the top Tuesday night.
Brawl after brawl after brawl broke out in front of the Pirates dugout during a game won by Pittsburgh, 11-4.
The torch was lit when Pittsburgh pitcher Trevor Williams, who wasn’t in the game, stood in front of the dugout yelling at Reds pitcher Amir Garrett.
Garrett bolted from the mound and sprinted toward the Pirates dugout. He was greeted by a mass of black-and-gold clad uniforms as Garrett took a left-handed haymaker at Williams. And the fight was on.
Even the managers did battle. Reds manager David Bell jumped on Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle. Peace was restored momentarily when Garrett left the field.
But they couldn’t hold back Puig and he kept trying to get to several Pirates and the melee lasted several minutes. When semi-peace prevailed, Garrett, Puig and Williams were ejected.
Bell can expect a long suspension and a steep fine because he had already been ejected earlier in the game and rushed back on the field to join the skirmishes.
The two teams have a long history of using each other for target practice and Tuesday’s festivities began in the seventh inning.
Relief pitcher Keone Kela threw a high-and-inside pitch to Derek Dietrich. Nothing happened then and Dietrich struck out to end the inning.
As the teams changed sides Kela uttered some epithets at Dietrich, Joey Votto began jawing at the Pirates, causing the umpires to have a long chat with Bell. Nothing materialized. . .at this point.
But it did the next inning. The Reds loaded the bases with one out in the eighth. When umpire Larry Vanover called strike one on Puig, Puig protested and tossed his batting helmet. Bell sprinted to home plate in time to get his eighth ejection of the season.
Over? Not on your life. Jared Hughes came in to pitch the ninth and with his first pitch he hit Starling Marte and was ejected, his first career ejection.
Amir Garrett replaced Hughes long enough to make his charge of the heavy brigade toward the Pittsburgh dugout.
Puig won’t be with the team Wednesday and when asked about that, Votto said, “We wont be as tough. We’ll have to drop down in weight class.”
Bell has spoken time and time again about the league not protecting the players, not doing anything about the way the Pirates operate. And Bell believes it is preached by the Pirates to do it that way, the Pittsburgh way.
“It’s a shame that this is allowed, that they get away with it, that they celebrate it, they support it,” Bell said of the Pirates. “They clearly allow it. I don’t know if they teach it, but they allow it and it is dangerous.”
Asked if he believes Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle is the mastermind, Bell said, “Well, he’s the manager and this has been going on all year. It’s too bad that anybody would allow that, that or support that in a game. The pitcher (Kela) comes in (to the dugout) and they high-five him.
“We have to protect our guys and there is no good way to do it,” Bell added. “Warnings doesn’t do anything. “People you care about…there health is put in jeopardy. Nothing is done about it and it just continues to happen and we suffer for it.
“So we have to do what we gotta do and I was proud of our team,” said Bell. “At some point we have to protect ourself and we did what we could tonight.”
Said Garrett, “I don’t condone violence and I don’t like kids to see that. I like kids to see that baseball is fun. The violence shouldn’t be in there.”
Then why was it?
“At the end of the day it is about protecting you teammates,” he said. “Emotions got the best of me. I was just fed up with it.”
Of Kela’s pitch that nearly hit Dietrich, Garrett said, “The game was going along so smoothly. Then. . .you know it is on purpose. We have a history with them. It just gets to a point where nobody is protecting us.”
Votto said the best thing about it was team unity.
“The baseball is a hard projectile and once you let go you can hurt somebody,” he said. “Any time a baseball is up around somebody’s head, players take exception to it, no matter the uniform.
“Derek is on my team and I like to think I stand up for my teammates,” he said. “Today was a good example for us standing up for each other. It was an example of us standing our ground, standing up for what we think is right. At some point, a team has to do that. Every team has a line drawn in the sand and at some point if people keep crossing the line you have to stand up for yourself.”