The fallout from Atlanta Braves slugger Marcell Ozuna hitting Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Will Smith in the head with his backswing Monday night just keeps on falling out.
The incident in question occurred in the fourth inning of the Dodgers' 8-6 win over the Braves. Ozuna, who has a prominent backswing, hit Smith in the side of the helmet on his follow-through of a fly ball to left field.
Smith, who had to go through the concussion protocol earlier this season, began jawing at Ozuna after the contact. The two players had to be separated as the benches briefly began to clear.
Smith explained his version of the events to reporters after Monday's game, saying:
"I was just mad. He hit me in the head with his bat pretty hard. It's not the first time he's done it to me. He’s done it to other catchers around the league. I just felt like there comes a point where I need to say something there. In the moment, it kind of got a little heated. It’s something he’s not doing on purpose. But you do it enough times, you’d think he’d fix it."
Marcell Ozuna fired back, saying that it is not his intention to hurt anyone. Rather than apologize, he told Braves beat writer Justin Toscano that Smith and other catchers need to back up when he swings.
It's been a long season for Marcell Ozuna already, and it's not even June yet. After spending much of April hitting below .100, Ozuna has rebounded to bring his batting average to .216 following Monday's game. He has eight home runs and 18 RBIs on the season.
Of course, not everyone was anti-Ozuna. Many defended the Atlanta slugger, although most of the defense seemed to be emerging from the Braves fan base.
Marcell Ozuna is a divisive figure
Not long ago, most Braves fans wanted Marcell Ozuna cut loose after his awful start to the season. Ozuna, in his 11th MLB season, is in his fourth campaign with Atlanta. He played for the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals previously.
In 2021, Ozuna was arrested and charged with aggravated assault by strangulation and battery after police witnessed him grabbing his wife by the neck and throwing her against a wall. Ozuna was suspended 20 games by MLB, but charges were later dropped.