Alfredo Aceves is back in Red Sox camp, sporting the damage caused by Saturday night's brawl between the teams from Mexico and Canada in the World Baseball Classic. A few days removed from the incident, Aceves is speaking out on how things went down. From Tim Britton:
"I reacted to it, because I didn't do anything to him," Aceves said. "I was just calming down. The fighting was with the pitcher and the hitter. So I was saying, 'Calm down, man, calm down.' And he just grabbed me and threw me on the floor. So I was like, 'I'm going to throw you on the floor, man.' Then when I jumped in to this guy, I had seven guys against me."
Think what you want about Aceves, and what has been an earned reputation as something of a loose cannon in the clubhouse, but video of the incident corroborates his story. ESPN has video of said brawl on their YouTube channel, which has conveniently been converted into gifs for the key, Aceves-related moments*:
There's Aceves, right near an umpire, not throwing any punches. Whether he's saying "Calm down!" or not isn't known, but he's not doing anything violent. That is, until Tyson Gillies comes up from behind, throws him down hard, and realizes, at Bluthian speeds, he's made a huge mistake. Aceves gives chase, but runs straight into a pack of Canadian ballplayers. The melee, at least in this corner, begins to focus on Aceves:
Aceves is bounced around by Team Canada like he's the seven-footer in a Royal Rumble match that needs to be ganged up on to be defeated. Amazingly, Aceves doesn't seem to bear any ill-will towards Gillies or our neighbors to the north, basically saying he would do (and did!) the same:
"Who's Gillies? Oh, no. That was the first time I saw him there. Like I said, it's part of the game. He was trying to defend his team. If it were me, I'd try to do the same thing," said Aceves. "What can I say? It didn't surprise me when he threw me to the floor."
Aceves went on to point out he'd jump into a fight to defend his Red Sox teammates, too, should the need arise. This is probably one of those moments where his fellow Sox are glad this guy is on their side.
*Thanks to SB Nation compatriot Grant Brisbee for making these gifs for me so none of you know that I don't know how to make them
The Yankees don't want Dan Johnson to be their Opening Day first baseman, so they're trying to lure players out of retirement to avoid this scenario. General manager Brian Cashman said he'd love to have Chipper Jones man the hot corner for them, pushing Kevin Youkilis to first, but there are more realistic propositions afoot. Derrek Lee, who didn't play in 2012, is available, retired, but most importantly, intrigued by coming out of that state to man first base for the Yankees.
Lee might not be the most attractive option that comes to mind, but he hit .267/.325/.446 in 2011, plays a solid first base, and is, even a year removed from the game, more reliable than Johnson, who has 262 big-league plate appearances and a sub-700 OPS over the last three years. In short, if you're a Red Sox fan -- and this is a safe assumption for most of you reading this at the moment -- you should be rooting for Lee to stay retired.
Rob Bradford has a list of potential options for the designated hitter slot for Boston while David Ortiz recovers from his latest leg injury. One of those options is not the aforementioned Lee, presumably because, with New York involved and able to offer more in terms of guaranteed playing time, they stand no chance of luring him out of retirement anyway.
The options aren't much different than what we've been hypothesizing here. Mauro Gomez and Ryan Lavarnway with lefties on the mound, Mike Napoli possibly getting some days off from first base, Jonny Gomes moving in from the outfield, and so on. It does serve as a reminder, though, that the Red Sox aren't sunk in the season's early games if Ortiz has to miss a week or so to begin the year. You would certainly prefer Ortiz in the lineup, but if this means the Sox don't need to immediately worry about losing Lyle Overbay, Mike Carp, and Ryan Sweeney from the organization, then it could end up working out for them to a degree.
Still, yeah, you'd prefer Ortiz to DH, and so would Boston. But hey, reality!