D-backs, Brewers get back to baseball after beanball controversy
JUN 18, 2014 11:29p ET
PHOENIX -- The Diamondbacks created national buzz when Evan Marshall hit Ryan Braun and whole team appeared to revel in it during a loss to Milwaukee on Tuesday. But D-backs manager Kirk Gibson was ready to turn the page Wednesday.
He insisted on it.
"They throw inside, we throw inside; some people got hit on both sides, and there are all kinds of new story lines that are being created. It has to stop," Gibson said.
Two specific story lines gained traction in the aftermath of the Brewers' 7-5 victory:
-- Gibson's' long-standing animosity toward Braun finally bubbled to the surface.
-- The D-backs' dugout high-fives and fist bumps were arrogant and inappropriate.
But first the recap: Brewers right-hander Kyle Lohse hit two D-backs earlier in the game. Then with one out and runners on second and third in the seventh inning of a 4-3 game, Marshall threw his first pitch behind Braun before hitting the Brewers slugger in the hip with the second. Marshall was immediately ejected, leaving the bases loaded for right-hander Brad Ziegler, who was sitting in the bullpen with his sweatshirt on when Braun was hit, far from warmed up. Jonathan Lucroy hit a first-pitch fastball from Ziegler for a grand slam and a 7-4 lead.
"I think every team sticks up for each other," Gibson said. "I think you have to do that. Are you inferring that's what we were doing last night?"
The Brewers certainly did, and manager Ron Roenicke, Braun and Lucroy said as much Tuesday night.
Gibson said the Braun connection was dredging up the past. He criticized Braun after his 2011 MVP season, when it was revealed Braun failed a drug test after the first game of the NLDS against Arizona. Braun was 9-for-18 with four doubles and a home run when the Brewers beat the D-backs in five games.
"I made comments way back in 2011 after that came out about Ryan Braun." Gibson said Wednesday. "I made comments. I never said another word about that since. But that's all pulled back into that. It's not right."
That was not the only time Gibson addressed the issue, however, leaving some to wonder if there was residual resentment. Gibson went after Braun again last August, after the latter was suspended for the final 65 games of the season for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal.
âI think that people should have an opportunity to ask him some questions and have him answer them unrehearsed," Gibson said, repeating his earlier criticism of Braun before continuing.
âIâm not surprised he hasnât addressed people. He probably doesnât give a (expletive) about me. Heâs got it really good. I was one of the guys who went through many things â work stoppages, et cetera â so that he could do that. I would hope that he respects me and everybody who stood up for him before he played the game."
Gibson was the first to fist-bump Marshall when he walked into the dugout following his ejection, and other players were encouraged to do the same.
Gibson was asked if he regretted the fist bump.
"Let's just move on. It's over, OK," he said.
It was over Wednesday, when either team seemed interested in continuing the back-and-forth.
Veteran D-backs right-hander Bronson Arroyo said a pitcher is forced to walk a fine line in a situation like the one Marshall found himself in Tuesday. While Arroyo was not suggesting that Gibson ordered the hit, he did say that managers have told him to hit batters. Arroyo also said sometimes the pitcher feels an obligation to his teammates to do it on his own.
"When I played in Boston and Manny (Ramirez) or (David) Ortiz got hit, it didn't matter if it was on accident," Arroyo said. "It didn't matter if it bounced. It didn't matter if it was 70 miles an hour. Someone was getting hit, because we couldn't afford to have those guys out of our lineup. That is the way the organization felt about it. It's just the way it is.
"Sometimes there is a situation where you feel like you have to do it so that your shortstop isn't irritated with you for the last three months and he thinks you are a softie. What happened last night was just a simple case of a couple of our guys getting thumped really hard and sometimes even if it is not on purpose, you thump people back to even the score."
D-backs general manager Kevin Towers went on the record after the 2013 season as saying he wanted his pitchers to use the inner half of the plate and not be afraid to pitch inside, and Arroyo said he sensed a lingering issue.
"From what I've seen from being around here, the last couple of years there has been a disconnect between our position players and our pitchers and how that has been handled," Arroyo said of protecting teammates. "When to do it and when not to do it, and when it has been done or not been done. Sometimes that can build a little bit of anxiety in the locker room and guys can go out and do things that maybe in a way you wouldn't want them to, but some turmoil inside the locker room can force those things to happen. For me, I think we just play baseball and should be fine."
Privately, several positions players had no problem with the way Marshall responded, although another said he had not sensed the "disconnect" Arroyo mentioned.
Arroyo was ejected once in his career, for hitting Tampa Bay outfielder Chris Singleton when told to do so in 2005. The Red Sox and Rays were involved in a bench-clearing incident that involved hit batters in late 2004 also.
"If the situation calls for it, I have no problem protecting the guys on my team," Arroyo said at the time. "It's probably about like asking if the death penalty is a deterrent to killing people. No. In games like that one, once it gets out of hand, people don't care what the consequences are going to be."
Roenicke's Brewers have hit the fewest batters in the NL this season and consistently rank at the bottom of that list.
"I think if you look at how many times we get hit during the season and how many times we hit other people, it should explain how we feel about it," Roenicke said. "I think we do the right things and we try to play the game the right way. You don't throw at people. Just pitch. Pitch and get people out."
Arroyo generally falls into the same category.
"For me, personally, I value the win and not putting runs on the board over all the ego stuff," he said. "I could have a guy stand at the plate and have a guy hit four homers in a day and he could break dance in the box, I could care less. I still try to get the out. I want to play the game to win. That means more to me than evening the score."