The Yankees hit Dustin Pedroia, and he has words with Jorge Posada.
The Pirates hit Albert Pujols and Tony La Russa says it was on purpose.
Ozzie Guillen issues a warning to opponents to stop hitting his players, or else.
The Red Sox and Tigers brawl as Kevin Youkilis charges the mound after being hit by a pitch.
The Giants and Dodgers get heated after Pablo Sandoval takes issue with an inside pitch.
This sort of thing is nothing new in baseball. I think the sport goes through stages like this once in awhile where pitchers finally say “enough is enough.” The ballparks are hitter-friendly, the strike zones are small and the pitchers, tired of getting knocked around, finally decide they need to take a stand.
Pitching inside is an important part of the game, but I think it has become a lost art. There are ways to go about it, and I think today’s pitchers don’t always understand when they should go inside, and how to go about it. They don’t work on it consistently, so they don’t possess that intimidation factor.
When I was 19, I had a chance to sit down and talk with Dodgers great Don Drysdale. Don was known for being intimidating on the mound, and part of the reason was he wasn’t afraid to make a hitter uncomfortable. He told me all about the importance of pitching inside, and that would become a big part of my arsenal.
I hit 155 batters in my career, the 13th most in Major League history. Once, I hit four batters in five innings, tying a major league record. Sometimes it got me into trouble, but in the long run, it helped both me and my team.
I’ll share some lessons here …
MAKING THE HITTER UNCOMFORTABLE
Nowadays, the most feared hitter in baseball is the Cardinals’ Albert Pujols. There are a lot of guys who would never dream of pitching inside on Albert. With those quick wrists of his, he’s liable to turn on the ball and put it in the seats. But with a guy like Albert, that’s exactly what I would do.
Now let me be clear: I’m not talking about head-hunting. I never went out and went for someone’s head. If you have to hit a guy, you go for his ribs, or his rear end. Those areas don’t move.
Paul Bereswill / Getty Images
Yankees catcher Jorge Posada tries to convince Red Sox batter Dustin Pedroia that the pitch that hit him was not intentional during their game on Aug. 6.
Case in point …
May 26, 1980, Pirates at Phillies
When I was pitching at Philadelphia in a game in 1980, I once threw a spinning curveball over Mike Schmidt’s head. It wasn’t on purpose, it just got away from me and didn’t have any break to it.
Well Schmidt didn’t like it. He got upset and said something to me. So the next pitch was a fastball near his chest. I didn’t hit him, but I ended up walking him and he yelled at me all the way down the line.
Well I wasn’t going to take anything from him, so I yelled back: “Do you want me to set it on a tee? Next time I’ll set it on a tee and you can hit it wherever you like.”
And that was my point. If he knew I would never come inside, then he probably could hit it wherever he liked. Of course his teammates didn’t agree with me, so later in the game Phillies pitcher Kevin Saucier hit me with a pitch. I knew he hit me on purpose, so I charged the mound and started a huge rhubarb.
Elise Amendola / AP
Boston Red Sox's Kevin Youkilis, below, charged the mound after being hit by a pitch by Detroit pitcher Rick Porcello, top, on Tuesday.
And Pete was right. I had made my point with Schmidt, and his teammates made their point back. It was time to move on. Which brings me to my next topic …
SOMETIMES, YOU HAVE TO MAKE A POINT
July 25, 1990 California at Oakland
I was 39 years old, pitching for the Angels and nearing the final stages of my career. It was my 21st season in the big leagues, and I have to admit that my shoulder was killing me.
A’s slugger Jose Canseco didn’t feel much sympathy for my shoulder, which was fine. But it wasn’t fine the way he stood there and watched the ball after smashing a homer off me. I mean he took forever. So I yelled at him: “Run you (expletive)! Run!”
Next time he comes up I hit him with a pitch right in the chest. The ball rolled out toward me and I walked up, picked it up, and told him “that couldn’t have hurt you, you’re so (expletive) strong.”
Well, in the next at-bat he goes deep off me again, a rocket to straight-away center field. But at least this time he ran around the bases. He may have got the best of me, but I made a point, and I don’t see pitchers making those points anymore.
When manager Doug Rader took me out of the game, he came up to me and said “I love you, man.”
ATLANTA (AP) - Matt Harvey pitched six hitless innings, John Buck homered and the New York Mets held off another Atlanta comeback, beating the Braves 4-3 Tuesday in the first game of a doubleheader.
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