SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - After a long winter, there’s nothing like taking a pitch in the middle of the back to get the bad blood flowing again.
Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder was the target of apparent retaliation on Thursday when he was hit by the first pitch from San Francisco left-hander Barry Zito in the first inning of a 5-3 victory by the Giants on Thursday.
The Giants had been simmering since Sept. 6, when Fielder celebrated a walk-off home run against them at Milwaukee’s Miller Park by acting like a bowling ball and “knocking over” his teammates, who fell like bowling pins.
There had been talk that payback might occur.
“My fastball was running in and it just got away from me,” Zito said. “It’s not like we’ve thought about (the celebration) for months and months.”
Zito didn’t seem worried about possible discipline. Plate umpire Ted Barrett issued no warnings after Fielder was hit. Fielder ambled toward first base, tossing the ball lightly toward Zito and clapping his hands when he reached the bag.
“I don’t even know about those things,” said Zito.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said it was “time to let bygones be bygones, focus on the game and move on. We’re trying to get ready for the season and put it behind us.”
Fielder might not be so quick to forget. He said he didn’t expect to be hit, but was irritated by what occurred. After the latest heavily scrutinized incident with a pitcher, Fielder said he is “working on growing up.”
“If that’s what they gotta do, let them hit me once, if it makes them feel better,” said Fielder, who has a home run, double and four RBIs in 12 career at-bats against Zito.
Taking one for the team was worth the celebration, he added. He knows a lot of people portray him as a villain. He admitted that he is “tired of being the bad guy,” but he will continue to play the game with as much gusto as he can.
“Any time something happens, I’m always the one who is videotaped,” he said.
“I play the game hard, run hard, and after that, I don’t care what anybody is thinking, except for my teammates.”
He apparently doesn’t always care what Brewers manager Ken Macha is thinking.
After a fifth-inning single, Macha instructed Joe Inglett to run for Fielder, but Fielder waved Inglett back to the dugout. Macha said something to Fielder at the end of the inning.
“I was just trying to work on my baserunning,” Fielder said, adding that Macha “was cool” with what he did.
Notes: The Giants did not have a hit through the first four innings before overcoming a 3-0 deficit with four runs in the fifth. Andres Torres’ RBI single put the Giants in front, and Kevin Frandsen’s single brought home an insurance run in the eighth. ... Brewers 2B Rickie Weeks looked strong after missing much of last season with an injured left wrist. He had two hits and drove in two runs. ... Giants reserve INF Emmanuel Burriss will be sidelined indefinitely after injuring his left foot in the opener against Seattle on Wednesday. It is the same foot that was broken last season and he is on crutches. ... Giants non-roster OF Thomas Neal is expected to return to action against Colorado on Friday after being hit in the head by a pitch against Seattle.
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