SAN DIEGO (AP) –– Zack Greinke’s pitch sailed up and into Carlos Quentin’s upper left arm, and it was on.
A little personal history was at play, as were rules that aren’t in any rule book.
Now the Dodgers will be without their $147 million pitcher for at least eight weeks and Quentin was suspended for eight games by Major League Baseball, pending an appeal, because of baseball culture and its fuzzy, unspoken guidelines on just when and how it’s OK to bean someone.
After Quentin got hit, the San Diego Padres’ slugger took a few steps onto the grass. When Greinke, Los Angeles’ prize offseason signing, appeared to say something, Quentin tossed his bat aside and rushed the mound.
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Greinke dropped his glove and the two players lowered their shoulders. The 6-2, 240-pound Quentin — who starred as an outside linebacker in high school — slammed into the pitcher.
Quentin and Greinke ended up at the bottom of a huge scrum as players from both sides ran onto the field and jumped in Thursday night.
Greinke took the brunt of the blow, breaking his left collarbone and inciting a fight that didn’t even end when the game was over. The Dodgers said Greinke will undergo surgery on Saturday to have a rod inserted into the collarbone.
“It’s a man’s game on the field,” Quentin said. “Thoughts aren’t present when things like this happen.”
Quentin didn’t back down on Friday, saying that getting plunked by pitches by Greinke during the 2008 and 2009 seasons was justification enough to charge the mound when it happened again.
“It’s an unfortunate situation that someone got hurt and I do have a lot of remorse that someone did get hurt,” Quentin said before the Padres opened a series against Colorado. “But I will say that I felt I had to protect myself and that what happened on that field as a result could have been avoided.”
Quentin reiterated that it was the first time he’d ever rushed the mound.
“If things were different, I may have never gone to the mound. And it’s just a shame that the Dodger organization has lost one of their key members.”
Quentin spoke to the media before his suspension was announced. He also was fined an undisclosed amount.
Dodgers infielder Jerry Hairston Jr. was suspended one game and fined an undisclosed amount.
Quentin and Hairston are playing, pending appeals by the players’ association.
No discipline was announced for Greinke and Dodgers slugger Matt Kemp.
Hairston, Quentin, Kemp and Greinke were ejected after the brawl.
While pitching for Kansas City against the Chicago White Sox on July 18, 2008, Greinke hit Quentin with a pitch near the left wrist, loading the bases. Then on April 8, 2009, Greinke hit Quentin between the shoulders in the fourth inning after throwing one high and tight during Quentin’s previous at-bat. Quentin took about a step toward the mound then, before plate umpire Bill Hohn jumped in front of him.
Quentin said Greinke threw a pitch over his head and the next pitch “directly at my face. If I don’t put my shoulder in the way it hits my face. … Last night I didn’t go out there until I was provoked to go out there.
“I saw an expletive followed by whatever you guys want to translate,” he said.
At its core, Thursday’s brawl was about baseball’s quirky decorum.
The game naturally has a tension between pitchers and batters over balls thrown over the inside of the plate, and sometimes that flares into disagreement over who “owns” the inside half. While the Dodgers were adamant that Greinke wouldn’t hit Quentin on a full-count pitch in a one-run game, some in the Padres clubhouse mentioned that Greinke usually has pinpoint accuracy.
Quentin’s rushing the mound was taking baseball protocol to the extreme, whereas in many other instances, the batter might gesture and yap while being escorted toward first base by the umpire and the catcher.
Quentin was hit by a pitch above the right wrist by Dodgers reliever Ronald Belisario in Tuesday’s series opener and had to leave the game. He sat out Wednesday night.
The Dodgers weren’t buying Quentin’s explanation. So much so that Kemp confronted Quentin as they left Petco Park following LA’s 3-2 win. Big Padres lefty Clayton Richard stepped between the two, and police and security moved in to break it up.
“He wanted to approach me aggressively and I tried to explain to him but he didn’t want to listen,” Quentin said.
Several Dodgers said Quentin should have known by the situation that Greinke’s pitch didn’t come with a purpose.
“I got emotional because first off, we shouldn’t even have been in that situation,” Kemp said in the clubhouse before his confrontation with Quentin. “People with good baseball IQs know that when you have a one-run lead in the sixth inning and it’s a 3-2 count, Greinke’s not going to hit you on purpose.
“I think Carlos Quentin went to Stanford? Something like that. Yeah. I heard there’s smart people at Stanford. That wasn’t too smart,” Kemp said.
Several Dodgers mentioned how Quentin crowds the plate. Manager Don Mattingly called Quentin “a guy that basically dives into the plate.”
Mattingly was livid and Kemp wasn’t far behind.
“People were saying in the pile, they’ve got history,” Kemp said. “Come on guys, history? I mean, Greinke’s trying to win games. He’s not trying to hit anybody on purpose. If you look at the video, if you look at where Quentin actually stands on the plate, he gives the pitcher no space to even come inside. Good pitchers have to come inside. Sometimes they miss their spots. Greinke missed his spot right there. That’s when he hit Carlos Quentin. No big deal. Take it like a man and walk down to first base. But he had to charge the mound. Now one of our best pitchers is hurt for no reason.”
Mattingly added that Quentin showed “zero understanding of the game.”
On Friday, Mattingly was much calmer than the night before. He had called for Quentin to get a suspension matching how long Greinke is out, but didn’t get his wish.
“I wasn’t like crazy mad. It just made sense, kind of an eye for an eye thing, but that’s not my job,” said Mattingly, who added that he spoke with MLB executive vice president Joe Torre.
Mattingly said he would not instruct his team to retaliate when they meet the Padres in a three-game series at Dodger Stadium starting Monday night.
“We’re trying to win games. We’re not MMA fighters or things like that. We’re trying to win baseball games.”
Quentin is in his second season with San Diego while Greinke is new to the Dodgers.
“I think this is more about their personal relationship as competitors,” San Diego manager Bud Black said Friday. “This is something that I don’t think any of us can really understand Carlos’ emotions, how a player feels in the batter’s box in a situation like this. `’
Greinke, the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner, had his left arm in a sling and a dazed look on his face as he told his side of the story.
“I never hit him on purpose,” said Greinke, who still appeared shaken after the game. “I never thought about hitting him on purpose. He always seems to think that I’m hitting him on purpose, but that’s not the case. That’s all I can really say about it.”
The teams play another three-game series at Dodger Stadium beginning Monday night.
After the teams started going back to the dugouts and bullpens following the brawl, Hairston came running across the field yelling and pointing at someone in the San Diego dugout and had to be restrained. Hairston claimed a Padres player — whom he wouldn’t name — was making fun of the fact Greinke had been injured.
Padres backup catcher John Baker said he heard the Dodgers accused him of inciting the second melee. Baker said he helped pull Greinke out of the fight. Baker and Black said they didn’t know until the ninth inning that Greinke had broken his collarbone.
“When emotions run so high, logic and reason don’t necessarily win out right afterward,” Baker said.
Quentin has been hit by pitches 116 times in his career, including an AL-high 23 times in 2011 with the White Sox. Greinke has hit 46 batters since his big league debut in 2004.
Quentin has been plunked more often than any other major league hitter since the start of 2008.
When it comes to the unwritten rules of baseball, Baker said he has one.
“People charging the mound has been part of the game for 100 years. People have to stand up for themselves in certain situations. The unwritten rule that I follow is that if your teammate feels the need to stand up for himself, it’s your responsibility as a teammate to support him.”
In Oakland, Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland said: “My only reaction is I’m tired of seeing it. It’s been on 1,000 times a day. That stuff has been going on for 1,000 years in baseball, plain and simple. End of the conversation.”