Archive for Monday, April 10, 2006

After spate of plunkings, Mats, Nets cautioned

April 10, 2006

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— After a series in New York that included seven hit batters, Major League Baseball is telling the Mets and Washington Nationals to be on their best behavior when they meet for three more games starting Tuesday.

"Just play ball," is the message being sent to the teams, Bob Watson, baseball's vice president for on-field operations, said Sunday night.

"Blowin' over? Not with eight guys getting hit. That never blows over," Mets outfielder Cliff Floyd said Sunday. "I just feel like it needs to stop."

There were five batters hit last Thursday night and two in the previous game. Six of the batters hit were Washington players - and the Nationals weren't happy about it.

Rookie right-hander Brian Bannister hit Alfonso Soriano in the back of the helmet. Jose Guillen was plunked three times, including twice by Pedro Martinez.

Guillen pointed his bat at Martinez and charged halfway to the mound Thursday after he was nailed for the second time in the game. The angry slugger was held back by plate umpire Ted Barrett and Mets catcher Paul Lo Duca as the benches and bullpens emptied. Players ran onto the field quickly, but no punches were thrown.

"I know how to take care of it, don't worry," Guillen said with a smile after the game, then referred to the rest of the season series. "I'm going to make sure I play in all the games he's in. ... I want him to throw inside. Now I want him more than ever."

Lo Duca had his own take on all the bluster.

"I think a lot of people say a lot of stuff when people are not in their face, so we'll see what happens when we're out on the field," he said Sunday after New York's 3-2 victory over Florida.

Nationals first baseman Nick Johnson also was hit twice, once by Martinez. The three-time Cy Young Award winner is scheduled to pitch Wednesday, the second game of the series in Washington.

"Hopefully, that's behind us. You don't want to get into a beanball contest with anybody," Mets third baseman David Wright said. "That doesn't do you any good. They have to understand - Pedro has to pitch inside to be effective. There shouldn't be any bad blood. You can't worry about those kinds of things. I'm not concerned about it."

Watson said Steve Palermo, an umpiring supervisor, would tell umpires for the upcoming series at RFK Stadium to be on the lookout for trouble.

"We will probably do what's normal after a confrontation like happened last series, and that's called a 'heads up,"' Watson said. "Steve Palermo will send out an e-mail to the crew and let them know what had taken place so they have an idea of what's going on."

After the teams were warned Thursday night, Nationals reliever Felix Rodriguez was ejected when he hit Lo Duca with first base open in the eighth inning. Washington manager Frank Robinson also was tossed from the game by umpires.

"Rick Reed tells me all our hitters were hit with changeups. I know they didn't all get hit with changeups. My eyesight is good," Robinson said Thursday night. "I'll tell you one thing, Pedro knows what he's doing out on the mound."

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