Guillen, Nats Get In the Last Word
Wednesday, June 15, 2005; 3:32 AM
ANAHEIM, Calif., June 14 -- Jose Guillen's return to Angel Stadium, supposed to be about leaving the past in the past and showing how he had embraced the Washington Nationals and moved on, exploded Tuesday night in a tense, bench-clearing exchange in which Guillen, the Nationals right fielder, had to be restrained and dragged to the dugout by his teammates -- and later returned to hit the home run that sparked an emotional 6-3 Washington victory.
Need some spice to the early part of your summer? Try Angel Stadium Tuesday night. In the top of the seventh inning, in a five-minute span, Nationals Manager Frank Robinson accused reliever Brendan Donnelly of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of having a foreign substance -- pine tar -- on his glove. And then, the real controversy.
Umpires investigated, Donnelly was ejected, Angels Manager Mike Scioscia told Robinson he was going to have all the Nationals pitchers undressed. Robinson responded by getting in Scioscia's face, the glove in question was confiscated, the benches and bullpens cleared, and Guillen -- the Nationals right fielder and erstwhile Angel, who left Anaheim under controversial circumstances -- appeared to snap.
"Sometimes, you need something like that to wake you up," said Carlos Baerga, the batter Donnelly was preparing to face.
In the middle of it all, Guillen was there. In the ejection, the scrum, and the result of the game. Apparently spurred on by the controversy, the Nationals used Guillen's two-run home run to tie things in the eighth and Junior Spivey's RBI single to take the lead, snatching their 14th victory in 16 games to extend their lead in the National League East to a season-high two games -- and leaving plenty of controversy behind.
At the heart of the dispute were Robinson, 69, and Scioscia, 46. Robinson said he considered Scioscia's claim that he would check each and every Washington pitcher for foreign substances a "threat."
"His guy got caught tonight cheating, and he was way off base," Robinson said, "and he took me by surprise. To me, it's a threat . . . I lost a lot of respect for Mike tonight, as a person and as a manager. There's nothing he can say to me now. Nothing. I don't even want him to approach me. I don't want him to try to apologize to me. If he even thought about it, I will not accept it. I don't want anything to do with it."
The situation was this: In the top of the seventh, with a runner on first and the Angels leading 3-1, Robinson called on Baerga to pinch hit for shortstop Cristian Guzman. That sent Scioscia to the mound to get starter Erwin Santana, who had done his job, and left to a rousing ovation. Donnelly, who allowed a pair of walk-off homers on the Angels' most recent road trip, entered to face Baerga. But Robinson was waiting for him.
After Donnelly warmed up, Robinson indicated to home plate umpire Tim Tschida that he wanted Donnelly's glove checked -- before he threw a pitch to Baerga. Tschida took Donnelly's glove, and all four umpires converged in front of the mound. Scioscia came to the field, and was told to stand aside while the umpires conferred, which they did for perhaps two minutes.
"There was a foreign substance on the heel" of the glove, crew chief Dale Scott told a pool reporter. "It was definitely pine tar. It was obvious. There was quite a bit of it."
Scioscia claimed that use of pine tar is a common practice, even though Rule 8.02b provides that use of any "foreign substance" is an automatic ejection.
"Pine tar doesn't affect the flight of the ball," Scioscia said. "It's an accepted practice."