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Giamatti Uncorks a 10-Day Suspension on Astros' Hatcher

September 04, 1987|From Times Wire Services

A. Bartlett Giamatti, president of the National League, continuing a crackdown on doctored baseballs and bats, Thursday handed a 10-day suspension to Billy Hatcher of the Houston Astros for using a corked bat.

Hatcher said late Thursday night that he would decide today whether to appeal the suspension.

"I told (General Manager) Dick Wagner whatever is best for the team is what I want to do," Hatcher said. "If it's best to appeal--and me play against the Giants and Pittsburgh--then that's what we'll do. Or if it's best to take my punishment now and miss those games, we'll do that."

Astro Manager Hal Lanier was fined an undisclosed sum because Giamatti believes a manager is responsible for illegal bats used by his players.

Hatcher was ejected from Tuesday's game against the Chicago Cubs after his bat splintered, revealing the corked center.

"I knew there probably would be a 10-day suspension for Billy but I don't agree with the fine," Lanier said. "I don't think it's a manager's job to check the inventory of the bats."

Pitchers Kevin Gross of the Philadelphia Phillies and Joe Niekro of the Minnesota Twins were suspended for 10 days each after scuffing material was discovered in their possession during a game.

Their managers, Lee Elia and Tom Kelly, escaped fines because a directive by Commissioner Peter Ueberroth specified bats and made no mention of doctored baseballs.

In Philadelphia, the Phillies said they have reconsidered and will not withhold Gross' salary of $23,000 during his suspension.

Lanier said he disagrees with the 10-day suspension for Hatcher and pointed out that the outfielder would be forced to miss eight games during his suspension, but the pitchers missed only two turns when they were suspended.

If Hatcher, the team's leading hitter, does not appeal, he would miss a three-game series against the National League West-leading San Francisco Giants, starting Monday.

Hatcher's case marked the first corking suspension since 1974, when the New York Yankees' Graig Nettles was ejected from a game for using an illegal bat.

Relief pitcher Dave Smith said he owned the bat that Hatcher used. Smith said a friend gave it to him to use in batting practice.

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