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Dempster accepts suspension without admitting guilt

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Ryan Dempster agreed to five-day suspension for hitting Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez.( REUTERS/Dominick Reuter)

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Ryan Dempster agreed to five-day suspension for hitting Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez.( REUTERS/Dominick Reuter)

Ryan Dempster can maintain his innocence, but Major League Baseball has a different opinion.

Dempster was suspended five games and fined an undisclosed amount for “intentionally throwing at” Alex Rodriguez in the second inning Sunday night at Fenway Park, MLB announced Tuesday. The Red Sox pitcher won’t appeal the suspension, and he began serving it Tuesday night.

“I wish things would have played out differently,” Dempster said. “I didn’t want to get suspended. But they handed down suspensions, so I will respect that.”

Considering the Red Sox are idle Thursday, the punishment for Dempster has relatively no impact on the rotation. If they choose, the Sox can skip Dempster’s turn this week and have Jon Lester and Jake Peavy start on regular rest Saturday and Sunday, respectively, against the Dodgers. Peavy got a no-decision Tuesday in Boston’s 3-2 loss at San Francisco.

And with another off-day Monday, the Red Sox could go without a fifth starter until Aug. 31. Dempster will be eligible to pitch as soon as Tuesday night against Baltimore.

Dempster also has been the weak link in the Red Sox’s rotation, posting a 6.81 ERA in his past seven starts.

After drilling Rodriguez in the ribs on a 3-0 pitch Sunday night, Dempster claimed he merely was trying to pitch inside, a stance he reiterated even after his suspension was handed down. Dempster insisted his decision not to appeal the suspension wasn’t an admission of guilt.

“It has to do with just taking my suspension, putting it in the past,” he said. “There’s no point in carrying out an appeals process. You’re just dragging things on, and for what reason? To reduce a game or two? This is a chance for us as a team and more so for me to put it all behind us. I just thought it was in the best interest of us as a team to go ahead and serve my suspension and move forward.”

Furthermore, Dempster claimed not to know Rodriguez well or to have an ax to grind against him. He denied a report out of Canada that A-Rod once snubbed him at a charity event.