06/20/07 9:55 PM ET
Qualls suspended for three games
Reliever punished for throwing ball into stands Monday
By Alyson Footer / MLB.com
"[My agents and I] talked about it, and I said it was a little extreme," Qualls said. "We talked to the players' union, filed an appeal and I'll keep playing baseball in the meantime."
After blowing a five-run lead in the seventh inning of the opener with the Angels, Qualls threw a ball into the third deck of the stands, above the Astros' dugout. He said later he was acting out of frustration after squandering a lead in a game the Astros eventually lost, 10-9.
Manager Phil Garner said he understood why the league took disciplinary action against Qualls, but he also thought the punishment was a bit severe.
"I don't want to put a number on it," said Garner, when asked what a more appropriate suspension should be. "You really shouldn't throw the ball in the stands. He was wrong to do that. He knows it was wrong to do that. But I think three games is extreme."
Qualls is the second Astros player to receive a suspension because of on-field actions this month. During the last homestand, Lance Berkman sat out two games for several incidents during the Astros' series in Colorado.
Garner didn't admonish Qualls for his burst of anger, but the skipper did surmise that if Qualls had to do it over again, he wouldn't have thrown the ball into the stands.
"It's one of those things where the minute you get it right about here," Garner said, pointing to his midsection, "You say, 'Why am I doing this?' He won't ever do it again. I would bet my life on it. It looks bad, there's no explanation for it. It was a mistake and I don't think he'll ever do it again."
Asked what he learned from the experience, Qualls, who had never been suspended before this incident, answered, "Don't throw the ball into the stands. Control your temper."
His teammates had some advice for him, too.
"Get your long toss in before the game," catcher Brad Ausmus said.
Because he appealed the suspension, Qualls will be permitted to continue pitching for the Astros. If necessary, an appeal hearing will be scheduled at a later date.
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.