In the first hilarious spaz encounter of the year, my main man Vlad Guerrero charged Brad Penny in the first inning of the Expos-Marlins exhibition game yesterday. Guerrero, who is surely over-sensitive about being pitched inside, instigated the fight with the Marlins pitcher.
"He threw the first punch. He started saying stuff. I just felt I wasn't in the wrong at all," Penny said.
"If I was going to hit him, I'd have thrown a four-seamer, not a sinker. It barely touched his shirt. It didn't even hit him hard."
Guerrero said it wasn't the end result, but the principle involved.
"I expect people to pitch me inside. I understand that. But it was just the fact that it was up around the head area. And what he said after he threw at me, he kind of cursed at me. That kind of ticked me off."
"Nobody's that good to where you can't throw inside. He's a Hall-of- Famer, but you still have to pitch him in," Penny said. "He's going to get into a lot of fights if that's how he acts when people throw him inside."
Expos manager Frank Robinson, who was hit by his fair share of pitches during his playing days, naturally defended his star:
"He's been very patient and very tolerant about these things, so I'm a little surprised. But when I really look at it, no. I think the pitcher accelerated it ... coming down off the mound and popping off," Robinson said.
"After watching all last year and this spring, the opposing pitchers take liberties. The pitchers say: 'I'm gonna make a real good pitch, or I hit him. If I do, so be it. If he's out of the lineup, so much the better.' "
Perhaps Robinson can give Vlad some lessons in how to properly turn away from a brushback pitch. Of course, yesterday's incident only reinforces just how much pitching inside has changed since Robinson's playing days.
At the very least, this should add some spice to the inter-division rivalry between the 'Spos and the Fish.