Castellanos praises Yadi after scuffle

April 4th, 2021

CINCINNATI – The Reds and Cardinals have feuded a few times over the years and renewed that part of their rivalry with an extended benches-clearing scuffle in the fourth inning Saturday.

Cincinnati was leading, 6-2, when pitcher Jake Woodford drilled Nick Castellanos with a fastball to his midsection. Castellanos showed his displeasure to Woodford and Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina by picking up the ball and offering it to the pitcher.

“I mean, look, I wore [92 mph] in the ribs. That don’t exactly feel good, you know?” Castellanos said. “I asked Yadi if it was an accident. He said, ‘Of course, it’s an accident.' All right, Yadi is a dude, Yadi is a boss. All right, I give him the benefit of the doubt. All right, it’s an accident. I take my stuff off. I even asked the pitcher if he wanted the ball back. … I go to first and the only thing I’m thinking about is scoring.”

Woodford noted that the pitch was unintentional.

“Sinker got away from me. I'm just out there trying to go out there and do my job,” Woodford said. “I was just confused, honestly. There was nothing intentional from my [end]; I'm not out there trying to hurt anybody or throw at anybody.”

St. Louis did not like Castellanos' offering of the ball back to their pitcher.

"The baseball is really hard. And I think it got a rib and probably ticked him off,” said Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright, who was replaced by Woodford. "You never offer the ball back to the pitcher though, that's tired. He should know better than that."

Later in the inning with Mike Moustakas batting, Woodford threw a wild pitch past Molina that scored Castellanos from third base with a headfirst slide. Woodford was covering the plate when the two came together. Castellanos stood up and flexed over Woodford.

“I dove. I felt him kind of land on my side,” Castellanos said. “I saw the umpire said safe. I stood up and said, ‘Let’s [expletive] go’ and I walked off.”

That led to Molina defending his teammate with a shove to Castellanos’ back, which emptied both dugouts and bullpens.

“What I saw was a really aggressive, big baserunning play by Nick … where he had a great read and made a really aggressive and great slide to get in and score a big run in the game,” Reds manager David Bell said. “I know he got up, he was excited; I saw him celebrate a little bit. Then I saw him walk off, walk away, and the next thing I knew, I saw a lot of people running on the field.”

The calamity was dying down with both teams returning to their sides when the donnybrook reignited in the outfield after Cardinals reliever Jordan Hicks shoved Reds shortstop Eugenio Suárez.

Cardinals manager Mike Shildt was among those trying to restore order on the outfield grass.

"So I don't have a great, really clear answer for you there,” Shildt said. “I can tell you how I ended up out there, because I had it on my radar, I won't go any further than that. I had a radar up of some of the principals that were involved. … Everything had kind of gotten calmed down in this area, and then I started tracking a couple different things that I'll keep to myself. And then, not surprisingly, it kind of materialized. Jordan took exception with it, [Justin] Williams took exception with it, and rightfully so.”

During the second scuffle, Castellanos and Molina remained in the infield talking.

Castellanos declined to elaborate on the conversation.

“That’s between me and Yadi. Like I said, yo, that guy could have punched me in the face, I’d still ask him for a signed jersey,” Castellanos said. “I’ve got nothing but respect for that cat, bro. He’s a real one. He said his peace. And I listened. That’s it.”

Castellanos was the only player ejected from the game. He was replaced by Aristides Aquino in the top of the fifth. Umpire crew chief Jim Reynolds explained was he the only player ejected.

“Because we felt that he -- after sliding into home -- re-engaged the pitcher in unnecessary fashion. And that’s why he was ejected,” Reynolds said.

Molina made contact with home-plate umpire Tony Randazzo before shoving Castellanos.

“Because sometimes contact happens between players and umpires that is not aggressive,” Reynolds said. “That is why he was not ejected.”

Back on Thursday, an 11-6 Cardinals win, Castellanos trotted and flipped his bat after hitting an Opening Day homer against the Cards with Cincinnati trailing by six runs. He did not know if that contributed to the incident Saturday as the Reds went on to win, 9-6.

“I don't think what he did [Thursday] was out of bounds at all,” Wainwright said. “I mean, he's a great hitter. … That's the way he competes. So no, I never thought about it, that was never mentioned in the scouting report.”

The two teams infamously brawled in 2010. Molina was in the middle of that when he and Brandon Phillips exchanged words at home plate before an at-bat by the Reds' second baseman.

“We play each other a lot,” Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart said of the National League Central rivalry. “The more you see people, the more games you play against certain teams, you find things that rub you the wrong way.”