Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

RedHawks pitcher sparked brawl: West

Simunic, Vaeth fined, avoid suspensions

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WINNIPEG Goldeyes slugger Kevin West said it was just poor pitching that triggered a series of events that ended in fisticuffs Monday night. Fargo-Moorhead starter Garry Bakker threw behind West once in the second inning before plunking him in the head in the third."I don't think Bakker would throw at me," said West a day after Monday's 13-4 loss. "I think it was an accident.

"(After the second-inning pitch), he just looked at me and tapped his jersey like 'my fault' or whatever."

But West went on to say that the Fish had to send a message, lest the Fargo-Moorhead staff start to think it could take some liberties with the Goldeyes' stars.

Winnipeg starter Ace Walker whipped the first pitch of the fourth inning behind RedHawks centre-fielder Nic Jackson, after which home plate umpire Harry Fredenburgh warned both dugouts. After West appeared to yell at the RedHawks dugout, both benches cleared and Fargo manager Doug Simunic landed punches on Goldeyes coach Tom Vaeth.

"I know that it was a breaking ball, but it still hit me in the face. So our pitching staff was just making a statement in a professional way.

"(Ace) went and threw a ball at Nic Jackson's hip. That's all he was doing, just making a statement saying, 'Hey, we're gonna protect our guys.' It may not have been on purpose, but we still gotta protect our players, and we're going to do it in a professional manner.

"The unprofessional part about it was when people in their dugout started yelling at us, yelling at our pitcher. I thought that was garbage. That's how the whole thing started."

Simunic, meanwhile, maintained that he was trying to calm West down when Vaeth came between them. Simunic said after the game Monday that Vaeth came too close to him and alleged that the Vaeth "head-butted" him.

"I was waiting to talk to the umpire, I was waiting my turn to talk to Harry (Fredenburgh) about what the warning was about," said Simunic in a follow-up on Tuesday.

"I said, 'Let's play, come on, settle down, everything's cool,' and I guess someone else perceived that I was calling him something else.

"I'm here to police my people and keep the game under control."

Northern League director of baseball operations Harry Stavrenos confirmed that both Vaeth and Simunic were fined, but not suspended.

New faces bolster Fish

THERE were a pair of new faces in the Goldeyes' clubhouse Tuesday with the Fish acquiring some help before Monday's trade deadline.

The Goldeyes traded for infielders Vince Harrison from Joliet and Mark Minicozzi from Kansas City. Coming into Tuesday's game, Harrison sat sixth in the league with a .324 batting average, while Minicozzi had nine home runs and 37 RBI.

Joliet and Kansas City will each receive future considerations.

The new faces will help replace second baseman Josh Asanovich, who was hurt in the first inning of Monday's game while trying to track down a Nic Jackson pop fly. Asanovich is expected to be out at least seven days.

daniel.falloon@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 19, 2009 C4

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