The biggest baseball event of Thursday night came outside of game action. In the top of the sixth inning of the Dodgers-Padres game in San Diego, Zack Greinke hit Carlos Quentin with a fastball on the wrist on a 3-2 count. After one step towards the mound, Quentin bull-rushed Greinke. As Quentin charged, Greinke threw his shoulder into Quentin’s body, and the result was a broken collarbone for the Dodgers’ starter. There is no timetable for Greinke to return to the mound; he will be examined by doctor Neal El Attrache on Friday.
Although we occasionally see this kind of aggressiveness from players without any prior provocation, it usually indicates some sort of history, either between player and team. A look into the pair’s past suggests there was already tension brewing, and said tension came entirely from Quentin’s end.
Greinke faced Quentin 28 times from 2008 through 2010, when Greinke was a Royal and Quentin a member of the White Sox. Twice, Quentin was hit by a Greinke pitch. The first came July 18th, 2008 as part of a six-run second inning. Greinke hit Quentin, the third batter of the game, with a pitch to the load the bases. Quentin would later homer off Greinke, but no tension of any kind was reported in any of the game recaps I could find.
Things were not so clean on April 8th, 2009, when Greinke hit Quentin with a 1-1 fastball with the bases empty. Greinke had already thrown a pitch high-and-tight in the pair’s first face-off of the day, a swinging strikeout for Quentin. Greinke hit Quentin between the shoulder blades with his third pitch of the next at-bat, and Quentin took a step towards the mound — much like he did Thursday night — but was stopped by home plate umpire Bill Hohn before anything could escalate, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal
Quentin almost certainly had the feeling Greinke was gunning for him. If Quentin just saw the latter half of Greinke’s post-game quotes, it could have stoked the fire. “It happens. You hit guys sometimes,” Greinke said. Quentin may have regarded a few near misses against his former White Sox teammates during Greinke’s time in Kansas City as malicious
But it’s hard to imagine Greinke was actually throwing at Quentin. If the partial quote above sounds cold, it’s just the way he talks about these things. Here’s the first half: “The first at-bat kind of scared me because you never want to do that to anyone.” And although Greinke picked up strike one on an inside pitch, he would need awfully poor control to miss this poorly on the first two pitches if he were actually aiming for the 6-foot-2, 235 pound outfielder. I was unable to find any post-game comments from Quentin.
To think Greinke was gunning for Quentin in the sixth inning Thursday night seems just as absurd. Quentin was hit by the sixth pitch of the at-bat, four of which were on or outside the outside corner of the plate. Quentin was the leadoff hitter in a one-run game. His pinch runner, Alexi Amarista, eventually scored the tying run. Neither the situation nor the pitch selection suggests intent at all.
But judging by Quentin’s post-game comments, he sensed something malicious from the Dodgers’ righty in the past. Via MLB.com’s Corey Brock:
“It’s unfortunate about the situation,” Quentin said. “It could have been avoided. You can ask Zack about that. For me, I’ve been hit by many pitches in my career. I think you guys know that. I can tell you I’ve never responded in that fashion, so you guys can do your homework on that. For me, the situation is done. That’s it.”
Quentin is vague, but it seems like he must be referencing the April 2009 game. And if so, Quentin seems extremely, extremely petty. Was there something said after one of the pitches? It’s the only way I could see Quentin having anything approaching a legitimate beef. As is — and I’ve done the homework — Quentin’s actions not only appear malicious, but completely unjustified as well.
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