CHICAGO -- Major League Baseball arbitrator John McHale Jr. upheld the 10-game suspension issued for Cubs catcher Michael Barrett, who was to begin serving the penalty Monday night when the team opened a three-game series in Cleveland.
Barrett was suspended for punching Chicago White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski on May 20 after a collision between the two at home plate, which ignited a bench-clearing incident at U.S. Cellular Field.
Barrett appealed the suspension and had a hearing last Friday at Wrigley Field in front of McHale, executive vice president for administration for Major League Baseball.
The Cubs catcher did not change his stance.
"I stand by what I said since day one, since the whole thing happened," Barrett said after the hearing.
At that time, Barrett said Pierzynski made a "great play." But the Chicago catcher was upset that Pierzynski took a step toward him, and didn't head back toward the White Sox dugout. Pierzynski said he was going after his helmet.
The 10-game suspension is the longest issued against any Cubs player. Sammy Sosa was issued an eight-game suspension in 2003 for using a corked bat, but that was later reduced after he appealed.
The timing is good for Barrett, who injured his back during an at-bat last Thursday. He has not started the last three games for the Cubs, who enter the Indians series on a six-game losing streak.
Henry Blanco, who was batting .500 (10-for-20) in his last six games, will get the majority of playing time behind the plate, while Phil Nevin, who subbed at catcher for one inning on Sunday, will be the backup. It was the first time Nevin had caught since July 26 and 28, 2005, for the Padres. Those were his last two games for San Diego; he was then traded to the Texas Rangers.
The Cubs will be playing a man short during Barrett's suspension. Barrett said he planned on going home to Atlanta for at least one day when the suspension was issued, because he wanted to check on repairs at his home, damaged in an April storm.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.