Benches clear in Nationals-Cardinals tilt

Benches clear in Nationals-Cardinals tilt

JUPITER, Fla. -- Tempers flared during the Nationals' 7-2 victory against the Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium on Monday afternoon.

In seventh inning, with one out and Washington leading, 4-2, Cardinals right-hander and former Nationals pitcher Miguel Batista hit shortstop Ian Desmond with a pitch. After he was hit, Desmond looked to home-plate umpire Fran Burke, wanting an explanation as to why he was hit. Both benches emptied, but no punches were thrown.

The two teams scuffled for about 15 minutes, with Nationals manager Jim Riggleman and Cardinals skipper Tony La Russa having a few words. The two have been friends for more than 30 years and worked together in the Cardinals' organization.

"This doesn't change anything," Riggleman said about his friendship with La Russa. "Tony and I are great friends. Tony and I have barked at each other a few times through the years. Tony doesn't consider me a friend during the game, and I don't consider him a friend during the game. It all goes out the window. Words were exchanged, and it's unfortunate."

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It marked third time a batter was hit by a pitch during the game. Laynce Nix was hit by a Chris Carpenter pitch in the top of the fifth, while Colby Rasmus was plunked in the bottom of the inning by Livan Hernandez. Ryan Theriot also had to duck out of the way of a Brian Broderick offering in the bottom of the sixth.

According to Riggleman, the Cardinals believed his team started the incident in the fifth inning, when Nyjer Morgan led off and bunted the ball toward Carpenter, who was able to throw out Morgan for the first out.

However, Morgan bumped into first baseman Albert Pujols, who appeared to be jostled on the play. The Cardinals' trainer came to Pujols' aid, but Pujols remained in the game.

It was second time in less than a year that the Cardinals had a problem with Morgan. On Aug. 28 of last year, Riggleman apologized to La Russa and catcher Bryan Anderson after Morgan collided with Anderson during the eighth inning of Washington's 14-5 victory.

Anderson, who had his back toward Morgan, didn't have the ball.

As far as Monday's incident, Morgan told MLB.com that he didn't run into Pujols intentionally.

"No, I didn't [bump into] Pujols on purpose," Morgan said. "I didn't do anything. I don't know what I did. I just play the game. That's all I could say."

Riggleman defended Morgan.

"It totally inaccurate [that Morgan intentionally hit Pujols]," Riggleman said. "Nyjer was running to first. The throw took Pujols on that side of the bag a little bit. Nyjer [hit Pujols]. We certainly didn't want to see that happened."

Two batters later, Nix was hit by a Carpenter pitch. Nix believed he was hit on purpose.

"There is no question about that," Nix said. "As for why, you have to go over there and ask [Carpenter] for that. I'm just playing the game. I'm not sure what the reason is behind it. I'm not extra sensitive to it or emotional. That's how they choose to do it, that's their thing."

Carpenter, who allowed four runs in 4 2/3 innings, denied doing anything of the sort. He didn't realize what was going on between the two clubs until Skip Schumaker gave him the news.

"I didn't hit him on purpose," Carpenter said. "It was just tough for me. It was one after another. We've got guys getting thrown out. We've got guys giving up runs. We've got people talking about what's going on out there and all this commotion between all the coaches and all this other stuff.

"Skip came in and was talking about ... [Nationals first-base coach] Dan Radison saying that I'm the one that starts all this stuff. 'Where's Carp at? Why isn't Carp out here?' That's the most idiotic thing, in Spring Training -- it's stupid. I said I didn't hit Laynce Nix on purpose and he said that everybody in the dugout thought I did, and I said, 'Well, you don't know me well enough or something.' ... But he wanted me to come back out, so I went back out and spent the rest of the day out there."

With one out in the bottom of the inning, Hernandez acknowledged that he hit Colby Ramus on purpose.

"I hit the guy, because [Carpenter] hit somebody," Hernandez said.

Hernandez said that he was surprised that Batista came back in the next frame and hit Desmond two innings later.

"I was surprised, because Batista was not supposed to hit another guy," Hernandez said. "That was the problem. In old-school baseball, La Russa knows that when you hit somebody, you are supposed to take the next one. That's it. He hits another guy again. It's not fair. That's not real baseball."

Batista said he didn't want Desmond to extend his arm at the plate.

"You let that kid get extended, Desmond, he can turn on it. So if you go in, you go in," Batista said. "Carpenter [missed his location] the whole game. He went in, away, in, away. He didn't try to hit somebody with a cutter."

While he didn't like being hit by the pitch, Desmond took a shot at Batista.

"It was intentional, but Miggy throws like Miss Iowa. It's no big deal," Desmond said, referencing the headlines Batista made last July when he tried to justify fans' disappointment in his spot start over the injured Stephen Strasburg by by saying, "Imagine if you go to see Miss Universe, then you end up having Miss Iowa, you might get those kind of boos."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.