PHOENIX -- A's pitcher Arnold Leon was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento and was sent to minor league camp Monday, his first day back after a wild weekend at the World Baseball Classic during which he incited a melee between his home country of Mexico and Canada by hitting a batter.
A's manager Bob Melvin said Leon's demotion had nothing to do with the incident that is still reverberating around the WBC, even though both countries are out. Melvin said there weren't enough innings in the major league camp to keep Leon busy.
In his first extended comments since Saturday's incident, Leon confirmed that he was under orders to drill Canadian hitter Rene Tosoni after Chris Robinson bunted to reach first in the ninth inning with Canada leading by six runs. Leon hit Tosoni in the back.
Leon said he was unaware of the WBC rule in which run differential is a tiebreaker for advancement. That rule prompted Canada to continue playing for as many runs as possible. Leon thought the order to hit Tosoni might have been made out of frustration.
"You're representing your country, Mexico, there is a passion for playing baseball," he said. "There are a lot of feelings on it, and we were losing. I didn't know the rules."
Leon maintained that his only failure was needing three pitches to carry it out.
"If I had hit him with the first pitch, probably nothing like that would have happened," he said. "It just happened. It's baseball. Like I said, I
Leon confirmed that he was implored by teammate Luis Cruz to hit Tosoni and also might have gotten a directive from the Mexico bench.
"I saw the sign," he said. "And if somebody tells you that you have to do something like that, you have to respect that, you have to respect your teammate."
Leon said he has heard positive and negative comments since the brawl. He said his A's teammates have been supportive.
"They just told me to calm down and take it easy, that I did what I was supposed to do," Leon said after working out with the A's minor leaguers at Papago Park.
Leon, 24, said that he didn't get involved in the shoving, noting that he was more worried about his family, including his pregnant wife, Cynthia, who was in the stands.
"I got out of there ... I was trying to calm down after that," he said. "I thought about my family and my wife. She was there watching me, so I was worried about her. That's why I just tried to get out of the way. She was scared a little bit, because she thought I was one of the guys (on the ground in the melee)."
Leon said when he met with Melvin on Monday morning, the manager asked if he was hurt and Leon said no. He added that the manager told him to "keep fighting."
Told that "fighting" might not have been the proper word choice, Leon chuckled.
"Fighting like staying competitive and being aggressive, keeping positive," the pitcher said. "I just want to keep working, forget about what happened the other day and keep working, keep moving and try to get to the big leagues."
Jarrod Parker, in his second start of the spring, gave up six hits and five runs in four innings, including two solo homers. Left-hander Travis Blackley yielded five hits and four runs in 11/3 innings.
"I actually thought he threw the ball pretty well," Melvin said of Parker. "He probably just didn't locate his fastball, and they ambushed him on some early first-pitch fastballs."
A's reliever Fernando Rodriguez had to leave the game after just one batter because of tightness in his elbow.
Read more about Jarrod Parker's performance in a 10-0 loss to the Padres at www.mercurynews.com/athletics