PHOENIX – A's pitcher Arnold Leon was optioned to the River Cats and sent to Oakland's minor-league camp Monday.
It was 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 purposely trying to hit a batter.
A's manager Bob Melvin said Leon's demotion had nothing to do with the incident that's 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, and he wasn't expected to make the Opening Day roster.
In his first extended comments since Saturday's incident, Leon confirmed 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 got Tosoni in the back.
Leon said he was unaware of the WBC's run differential rules that prompted Canada to continue playing for as many runs as possible. He thought the order to hit Tosoni might have been made because of frustration.
"You're representing your country, Mexico, (where) 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 just did what I did. You have to do it."
Asked if he was sorry, he sidestepped a formal apology.
"It shouldn't have happened," Leon said. "I just did what I had to do. I wasn't trying to hurt anybody."
Padres 10, A's 0 in Peoria, Ariz. – The A's loss to San Diego won't last long in Melvin's memory. Oakland managed just four hits, its pitchers got hammered, and the only real offensive rally was killed by a pickoff.
That said, Melvin wasn't displeased with starter Jarrod Parker's second outing of the spring – and neither was Parker – even though the second-year right-hander gave up six hits and five runs in four innings, including two solo homers.
"I actually thought he threw the ball pretty well," Melvin said. "He probably just didn't locate his fastball, and they ambushed him on some early first-pitch fastballs. But it wasn't like he was behind all the time or wasn't crisp. He just got hit, and you don't see that very often with him."