The Washington Post

Benches clear in Nationals-Marlins game after Ian Desmond, Jarrod Saltalamacchia jaw at each other

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

UPDATED AFTER THE GAME With the Marlins leading 6-0 in the fourth inning, the benches cleared after Ian Desmond and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia jawed at each other at home plate. After starter Tom Koehler’s second pitch to Desmond ran high and inside, Desmond said something to the effect of “throw the ball over the plate.” Two batters earlier, Koehler threw a high fastball high and inside to Jayson Werth, who drew a six-pitch walk. After the game, Koehler said he was trying to throw pitches to both sides of the plate.

“Last few nights we were missing over the middle of the plate,” Saltalamacchia said. “[Tuesday night] we had to really concentrate on getting on both sides of the plate.”

Desmond said he didn’t intend for the situation to escalate.

“This is how I feed my family,” he said. “I’m not scared to get hit. I’ve been hit plenty of times and never said a word. Up around the hands and head, I just don’t like that.”

As Desmond adjusted his batting gloves after making his remark, Saltalamacchia talked back to Desmond. “‘Hey, man, we weren’t trying to hit you, relax,'” he said he told Desmond.

Desmond said he has Saltalamacchia for a long time and respected him standing up for his teammate. But he still didn’t like some of the misses.

“I wasn’t necessarily thinking he had intentions of hitting me,” Desmond said. “You can drill me in the ribs, legs, whatever you want. But four or five times missing up around the hands and the head. I’m not claiming it to be on purpose, but you gotta be able to control the ball. No big deal. It wasn’t intended to escalate to what it did. But it was heat of the moment. It’s tough sometimes.”

The exchange heated up quickly between Saltalamacchia and Desmond, and plate umpire Marty Foster stepped between them. Saltalamacchia removed his mask, and then both benches and bullpens emptied. An umpire pushed a heated Koehler away from the mass of bodies.

“Little surprised, I guess,” Saltalamacchia said of Desmond’s reaction. “Not sure what the issue was. Maybe he was frustrated or something. We were trying to pitch our game.”

After a few minutes, players returned to their places and play resumed. There was no shoving or punching. Both benches were warned.

“This is baseball,” Desmond said. “We compete. Going forward, no hard feelings. This is the way the game goes sometimes.”

James Wagner joined the Post in August 2010, wrote about high school sports across the region for two years and has covered the Nationals since the middle of the 2012 season.
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