BALTIMORE, AUG. 4 -- With any official word about possible fines or suspensions delayed at least until the start of business Monday at the American League office, the principals of Friday night's bench-clearing square off between the Baltimore Orioles and Kansas City Royals said today the incident had been put to rest and the chances for a re-enactment in the near future are slim.
"I think it's all over and it's gone," Orioles Manager Frank Robinson said before the Royals' incident-less, 9-1 victory. "The only way things like this continue is if it comes against a team you have similar troubles with over and over. We haven't had any problems with Kansas City."
Except for Friday, of course. The hostilities began when Baltimore outfielder Brady Anderson attempted to steal second base with a 9-1 lead in the fifth inning of the Orioles' 14-1 victory.
Several Kansas City players -- most notably Kevin Seitzer and Jim Eisenreich -- objected, and Steve Crawford hit Anderson in the rear end with a pitch after entering the game in the sixth. Anderson started toward the mound but was headed off, both benches cleared and several minor scuffles ensued. But, as with most baseball fights, no damage was done.
Anderson was ejected, as was John Mitchell an inning later when he sent a pitch behind Seitzer. The benches cleared again for that near miss, but the result was more staring than fighting.
Robinson charged afterward that Royals Manager John Wathan told Crawford to hit Anderson, an allegation Wathan denies. Robinson said he hadn't told Mitchell to throw at anyone in retaliation. Both Crawford and Mitchell cited a pitcher's duty in baseball's code of honor to protect his teammates from any perceived injustices.
"Everyone did what they felt they had to do," Royals first baseman George Brett said. "It's the way these things always go. . . . I think everyone saved face. No one got hurt, and you move on. All's forgiven and forgotten."
Wathan said little about the incident today, repeating his denial that he ordered Crawford to throw at Anderson but declining to elaborate. Robinson repeated his defense of Anderson's attempted steal, saying he won't allow other teams to dictate his managing decisions and pointing to Oakland's rally from a 6-0 deficit to beat California, 8-6, Friday.
"In the fourth or fifth inning, I'm not going to stop playing baseball," he said. Of possible penalties from AL President Bobby Brown, Robinson said: "I can't see Mitchell getting anything more than maybe a fine. . . . But you never know."
Indeed, baseball's hierarchy has been intent this year upon cracking down on beanball incidents. Boston Manager Joe Morgan was suspended after revealing he told one of his pitchers to throw at an opposing hitter, and Commissioner Fay Vincent said during a recent visit to Cincinnati he had urged the league presidents to "send a message that throwing at another team's hitters intentionally will not be tolerated."
Both teams were issued pregame warnings by tonight's umpiring crew that any encore would result in the immediate ejection of both the offending pitcher and his manager.
Johnson Has Strain
Dave Johnson, the Orioles' winningest pitcher at 11-6, was cleared today to make his next start after a series of tests revealed the soreness in his lower back to be a slight strain.
Johnson left his victory over the Royals Thursday after 5 2/3 innings, complaining of pain in his back and legs. He was examined today and underwent X-rays and a Magnetic Resonance Imaging, proclaiming himself fit afterward.
"I'm fine," Johnson said. "We just wanted to make sure it wasn't anything hidden that could be serious, and it isn't." . . .
Robinson said he hasn't ruled Bob Milacki -- placed on the 15-day disabled list this week with a sore shoulder -- out of a start in the club's upcoming nine-day road trip. But he said isn't counting on Milacki and will use just-recalled Mickey Weston at least once on the trip. . . .
The Orioles will stop in Cooperstown, N.Y., Monday to play in the Hall of Fame game before heading to Oakland. Robinson said he'll use minor league pitchers exclusively in that affair and try to rest some regulars. . . .
Third baseman Craig Worthington, with a sore hamstring, was replaced in the starting lineup by Tim Hulett for the second straight night tonight. Worthington said he should be ready to play by Tuesday. . . . Ben McDonald will try Sunday night to become the first pitcher in Orioles' history to win his initial four major league starts.