PHOENIX — Don Baylor knows a little something about getting hit by a pitch. He was right on top of the plate when he batted and paid for it, being hit 267 times. Call Baylor old school, but he longs for the days when a batter was not chastised for occasionally seeking immediate justice.
Baylor was not afraid to take matters into his own hand during his 19-year career, and he vividly remembers charging control artists John Denny and Dennis Leonard, among others.
“John Denny … was a head-hunter,” said Baylor, now the Diamondbacks hitting coach.
Charlie Hough hit Baylor seven times, Jim Beatttie five. Bud Black got him four times.
Baylor had a general rule that covered when to retaliate.
“Anything that was above here, I was going most of the time,” Baylor said, holding his left hand at shoulder level. “The pitcher, whatever the intent is, he is the first to know what he wants to do.”
Baylor was asked about the subject before a game against the Dodgers on Friday, a day after San Diego outfielder Carlos Quentin charged L.A. right-hander Zack Greinke after being hit by a pitch. Greinke suffered a broken left collarbone in the collision with Quentin.
Quentin was suspened for eight games on Friday by MLB. He has appealed the ban, leaving the potential that he could play Monday in Los Angeles when the Padres meet the Dodgers.
Getting hit by a pitch “was part of the game,” said Baylor, who played from 1970-88.
“I don’t know what the big deal is. Now they are taking away the hard slide, breaking up double plays. They want to take away the only thing a hitter can defend himself with. When I got hit, I’d go down there and take somebody out. Now, you can’t do it.