By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 8, 2006
HOUSTON, April 7 -- A day after he was hit by two of Pedro Martinez's pitches -- and with suspensions impending for one of his teammates and his manager within the next week or so -- Washington Nationals right fielder Jose Guillen vowed that his feud with the New York Mets' right-hander was far from over. Indeed, it may be just starting, and it's sure to put the matchup under intense scrutiny when the two face each other Wednesday at RFK Stadium.
"We're two competitors," Guillen said in an interview Friday before the Nationals' game against the Astros. "But I think this is going to need to stop, and I'm going to make sure I put a stop [to] that.
"You know what? If I get hit again, it's going to get real ugly if he's pitching. He thinks I was going out there with the bat? Why would I need a bat for a 150-pound guy when I'm 230?"
Guillen's comments come in the wake of Thursday's bench-clearing incident in the Mets' 10-5 victory over Washington. Martinez, the cunning veteran who has long used pitching inside as a means of intimidating hitters, three times hit Nationals with pitches, including Guillen twice. Martinez has now hit Guillen five times in his career.
Guillen left Friday night's game after being hit on the left forearm by a pitch from Houston's Brandon Backe in the sixth.
Though Guillen, who pointed his bat menacingly at Martinez as he walked to the mound, was restrained and not ejected, Felix Rodriguez, a Nationals reliever, was later tossed for hitting Mets catcher Paul Lo Duca with a pitch. Because warnings had been issued to both teams, Manager Frank Robinson was ejected as well.
Suspensions in such instances are automatic, and Robinson said Friday it was likely Rodriguez would be held out of three games, Robinson one. Bob Watson, baseball's vice president of on-field operations, will meet with Robinson either Saturday or Sunday here.
"We have no timetable," Watson said in a phone interview Friday. "We're still doing our investigation."
Watson said that suspensions in these situations are, indeed, automatic for the pitcher and the manager, but could not yet say whether Guillen would be suspended. Rodriguez could appeal his suspension in an attempt to get it shortened.
Martinez -- who five times has finished in the top three in his league in hit batsmen -- said he was not intentionally throwing at Guillen, who tied for the National League lead in being hit by pitches last season.
"Things happen," Martinez said after Thursday's game. "If it's going to have to happen again, then it's going to have to happen again. But I'm not trying to do it."
Guillen said unequivocally Friday that he believes Martinez intentionally hits batters.
"Pitching inside, that's part of the game," Guillen said. "But throwing at people, that's different. And that's what he was doing. He's trying to intimidate people. And sooner or later, he's going to get hurt. I can guarantee you that."
Robinson is well aware of Guillen's temperamental nature, one that could lead to an explosion should Martinez hit Guillen again on Wednesday. But he said he understands Guillen's frustration.
"Pedro has to take that into consideration," Robinson said. "It shouldn't be all on the hitter. The pitcher's got to share some responsibility, too, [and say,] 'Hey, this is a volatile situation.' . . . I'm not saying he shouldn't try to pitch him inside, but he can't just take liberties of missing by two or three feet inside."
Guillen has 13 hits in 32 career at-bats against Martinez, a .406 average, with two homers. Friday, he was asked if he is intimidated by the three-time Cy Young Award winner.
"What a thing to ask," Guillen said. "You think he can intimidate me? I'm not afraid of no one when I cross those white lines. And let me tell you something: We'll see on Wednesday how tough he is. I want him to come in there. And we'll see if he's that tough like he thinks he is."