Most have heard by now of the incident that took place Tuesday afternoon during the Albuquerque Isotopes’ game against the Salt Lake City Bees. Miguel Olivo and Alex Guerrero got into an altercation in the dugout during the game, which ultimately resulted in Olive biting Guerrero’s ear.
Yes, you read that correctly. Olivo bit his teammate’s ear, just like Mike Tyson did to Evander Holyfield years ago.
The Dodgers have since suspended Olivo indefinitely, pending an internal investigation into the incident.
Reports have since come out over the past 24 hours, filling in many of the details surrounding the incident. The Isotopes, Los Angeles’ Triple-A affiliate, were getting run on fairly aggressively by the Bees. Tensions began to grow, particularly after a stolen base by the Bees in the bottom of the 7th inning. Olivo’s throw appeared to reach second base in time, but Guerrero missed the tag. The two players exchanged words on the mound during a pitching change that followed and had to be separated.
Following the inning is when the altercation took place in the dugout. According to details (and photos) passed along by the team at StingEmBees.com, the two players were separated again upon entering the dugout. It was unclear who had re-instigated the verbal sparring between the two. Guerrero moved to the opposite side of the dugout, but as he walked through he was apparently sucker punched and the pair once again starting to go after eachother. Olivo at one point had his arm wrapped around Guerrero’s neck, presumably when he took a bite out of his teammate’s ear. The game was delayed while all this was going on, as everyone on field couldn’t keep their eyes off the unexpected actions taking place in the Isotopes’ dugout. Neither player would finish the game.
I’m told Olivo bit off significantly more of Guerrero’s ear than Tyson did Holyfield’s.
— Dylan Hernandez (@dylanohernandez) May 22, 2014
Guerrero underwent plastic surgery on Wednesday to “fix” his ear and will reportedly miss at least the next five weeks. Los Angeles had signed the infielder this past offseason to a four year, $28 Million deal after he’d defected from Cuba. He was a part of the team’s active roster for their season opening series in Australia, but failed to see much playing time – appearing as a defensive replacement in the first game and pinch hitting in the second, striking out in his only at bat. He’s been with the team’s Triple-A affiliate since. In 33 games he’s looked impressive at the plate, batting .376/.417/.735 with 10 HR in 127 PA.
Questions do exist surrounding Guerrero’s defensive abilities, suggesting why the team still has him in the minor leagues at all. He was believed to be primarily a shortstop during his time in Cuba, but the Dodgers have been working on transitioning him over to second base where they have a larger organizational need. It’s unclear when they’d planned on having him join the Major League roster, but him missing at least five weeks certainly puts a hold on those plans.
What also remains unclear is whether Guerrero will press charges against Olivo for the biting incident. His agent, Scott Boras, certainly seems to believe that such an action might be necessary according to comments he made after learning of the incident. Danny Wild at MiLB.com notes that the decision has been left to Guerrero, who reportedly wants to consult with a lawyer before choosing how to proceed. The Salt Lake City police department collected evidence following the incident, but will refrain from opening a formal investigation until he does so.
Plenty of public outcry following the incident called for Olivo’s immediate release from the Dodgers, but the team has elected to suspend the veteran catcher instead – at least for now. Olivo joined the organization on a minor league deal this past January and is earning $800,000 this season. While on the suspended/restricted list he will not collect his paycheck, perhaps a factor in the Dodgers’ decision. Should the team release him Olivo will still be able to collect that salary. The 35 year old appeared in 8 games for the Dodgers earlier this season, batting just .217/.240/.304 in 25 plate appearances. He’s hit .368/.407/.605 in 81 plate appearances in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.