Dave Nelson, first base coach of the Cleveland Indians, said in a television interview that outfielder Albert Belle was carrying out Nelson’s orders when he flattened second baseman Fernando Vina of the Milwaukee Brewers in the basepath May 31.
In an HBO segment of “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel” devoted entirely to filmmaker Spike Lee’s interview with Belle, Nelson said he chewed out Belle for failing to do the same thing to Vina earlier in the game. Belle was suspended for two games and fined $25,000 by the American League for the incident.
“I definitely had no intentions of trying to hurt him or end his career or knock him out for the rest of the season,” Belle said.
The first collision between Belle and Vina occurred in the third inning of the game at Milwaukee with Belle on first base. Vina fielded a grounder, charged Belle for the tag, then threw to first for the double play after Belle bumped him lightly.
Nelson said he had just finished telling Belle to be sure to break up any double-play attempts.
“Now it’s three outs,” Nelson said, “so Albert’s standing out on the infield, and I go out there . . . and I said, ‘Dammit Albert, what did I tell you?’ I said. . . . ‘You cost us a . . . run, and you should have took the guy out.’ ”
In the eighth inning, after Belle was hit by a pitch, nearly the same thing happened, only this time, Belle smashed Vina to the ground. Belle was out, but there was no double play.
Kansas City reliever Jeff Montgomery underwent arthroscopic surgery that indicated more damage to his shoulder than was previously thought, Royal General Manager Herk Robinson said. Montgomery, 34, became the Royals’ career save leader this season, but had been uncharacteristically ineffective, with 10 blown saves and a 4.26 earned-run average. . . . Bats confiscated from Seattle’s Alex Rodriguez and Baltimore’s Bobby Bonilla during a game last weekend were found to be “clean and legal,” the American League said. The bats were sent to the AL office after they were confiscated Sunday during the Mariners’ 5-1 victory over the Orioles. The league said the bats were X-rayed by the Pediatric Radiology Department of New York Hospital. . . . The Philadelphia Phillies picked up right-hander Garrett Stephenson, 24, completing a four-player trade with Baltimore.