ARLINGTON -- Twins right fielder Torii Hunter received a two-game suspension and was fined an undisclosed sum for his actions during the eighth inning of Wednesday's game against the Royals, Major League Baseball announced on Friday. Hunter is appealing the suspension and is eligible to play until the process is complete.
Hunter was ejected by home-plate umpire Mark Ripperger for arguing balls and strikes, then proceeded to take off his protective gear and jersey and throw them onto the field. Hunter said he expected a fine but felt his actions didn't warrant a two-game suspension. He also said he's not sure how long the appeal process will take.
"I'm going to appeal it because I think it's a little harsh," Hunter said. "But we'll see what happens. It's just part of the process. You just have to go through it and hopefully it'll be lightened a little bit."
Hunter defended his actions and said that any contact with the umpires during his tirade wasn't initiated by him.
"I'm just a passionate guy," Hunter said. "This is my job and I come do my job well, and I expect you to do your job as well. But I wasn't thinking about a suspension or getting fined. I just have a passion for this game, and I love this game. And if I feel like it's being taken away from me, I'm going to defend it."
Twins manager Paul Molitor, who was handed his first career ejection after Hunter was tossed, said it wasn't a shock to see the league hand down discipline, but that he also believed the ruling was a bit harsh and was hopeful the suspension will be cut down to one game.
"Having been somewhat privy to the conversations at home plate, I don't think it was over the top," Molitor said. "His decision to get his money's worth and how he reacted after the ejection, that's where the debate comes in. But guys who have been around like Torii Hunter or David Ortiz, they're going to say what they say or do what they do because they have some kind of entitlement because of their tenure. I think there's some legitimacy in that."
Hunter also offered an apology to any fans he offended but said it was just fueled by passion for the game.
"That was probably the most animated I've been," Hunter said. "So to the fans, I'd like to say sorry for my actions and my emotions. Emotions are never good; you always end up apologizing. But at the same time, it's like I'm not sorry, because it's just my passion. I know a lot of people don't understand it, so I have to apologize to those people who don't understand it."
Molitor said he's also aware of the theory that Hunter's outburst was an attempt to pump up his teammates, as the Twins were about to be swept by the American League Central rival Royals, but he said he didn't believe that was Hunter's original motive.
"I think initially it wasn't calculated; the emotions were real and raw," Molitor said. "But I think the longer it went on, I think maybe he thought, 'This is a good time to go off.'"