Royals’ Brad Keller drops appeal of five-game suspension, set to return Monday

Royals pitcher Brad Keller, this year’s opening day starter, has dropped his appeal of Major League Baseball’s five-game suspension for his role in the bench-clearing altercation between the Royals and White Sox last week in Chicago.

Keller’s suspension started on Tuesday night in St. Petersburg, Florida, where the Royals are playing the Tampa Bay Rays in the final leg of a three-city, 10-day road trip.

The Royals are off Thursday, so Keller’s suspension will be served Tuesday through Sunday, and he’s expected to start on Monday against the Rays at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. He’ll end up pitching on an extra day of rest.

Royals left-hander Danny Duffy will make his first start of the season against the Angels on Friday at Kauffman Stadium. Jorge Lopez will start Saturday, and Homer Bailey will start on Sunday.

“It’s over with,” Keller said on Tuesday. “I didn’t want to wait around and see how long (it would take). I figured just stop it now, serve the suspension and move on.”

MLB’s Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre announced the suspensions of Keller, White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson and White Sox manager Rick Renteria on Friday. Keller appealed his suspension and made his next scheduled start on Monday against the Rays.

The announced cause of Keller’s suspension was for “intentionally throwing a pitch” at Anderson. In his postgame comments, Keller claimed that the pitch got away from him as he attempted to pitch Anderson inside.

Keller gave up a two-run home run to Anderson in the fourth inning of last Wednesday’s game in Chicago. Anderson threw the bat towards his dugout and yelled at his bench after his home run sailed high and far into the left-field stands.

The next time Anderson came to the plate, in the sixth inning, Keller hit Anderson in the rear end with the first pitch, a 92 mph fastball.

Royals catcher Martin Maldonado stepped between Anderson and the mound as Anderson glared toward Keller. Both team’s benches and bullpens emptied onto the field as pushing, shoving and trash talk went back and forth.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that Anderson’s resulted from him having called Royals pitcher Brad Keller a “weak-ass (expletive) n-word” after benches cleared.

Anderson and Renteria already served their suspensions.

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Lynn Worthy covers the Kansas City Royals and Major League Baseball for The Star. A native of the Northeast, he’s covered high school, collegiate and professional sports for The Lowell Sun, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, Allentown Morning Call and The Salt Lake Tribune. He’s won awards for sports features and sports columns.