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Padres opt to take high road with Rizzo

Cubs' leadoff man collided with, injured Hedges on Monday
MLB.com @AJCassavell

CHICAGO -- The Padres took the high road Tuesday night, opting not to retaliate against Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo for his controversial slide that sidelined catcher Austin Hedges.

Manager Andy Green made it very clear he didn't see a purpose in intentionally throwing at Rizzo. He met with Tuesday's starting pitcher Jhoulys Chacin, instructing the right-hander not to plunk Rizzo, who instead homered in his first at-bat.

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CHICAGO -- The Padres took the high road Tuesday night, opting not to retaliate against Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo for his controversial slide that sidelined catcher Austin Hedges.

Manager Andy Green made it very clear he didn't see a purpose in intentionally throwing at Rizzo. He met with Tuesday's starting pitcher Jhoulys Chacin, instructing the right-hander not to plunk Rizzo, who instead homered in his first at-bat.

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A day later, Green made his reasoning clear.

"You assess risk and retaliation, and you put some trust in Major League Baseball to do some things," Green said. "The reality is, when you throw at a guy in retaliation, you're not really protecting anyone. That's a simple fact. There's nothing that's threatening the health of our players."

The collision took place in the sixth inning of Monday's Cubs victory, after Rizzo attempted to tag from third base but was beaten home by Matt Szczur's throw. Hedges gave Rizzo a lane to the plate, but Rizzo initiated contact with the Padres' backstop nonetheless. Rizzo called it "a hard slide" and "an instinct play." Hedges was out of the lineup Tuesday and Wednesday with a right thigh bruise, but is expected to return Friday.

Major League Baseball deemed Rizzo's slide to be in violation of rule 6.01(i), which says a baserunner may not deviate from his path to the plate to make contact with the catcher. Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre spoke with Rizzo about the violation, but no further discipline was handed down.

Privately in the Padres' clubhouse, some questioned that decision. None called Rizzo a dirty player. But if Rizzo violated a rule, they asked, and that rule put a key player's health in jeopardy, shouldn't there be repercussions? In the past, those repercussions may have played out on the field in the form of a beanball. The Padres did not to take that route, and after Tuesday's game Green received some criticism from Padres fans.

"People are entitled to whatever opinion they have," he said. "Our guys, the reality is, every single one of our pitchers would fight for Austin Hedges, if they thought that was the prudent thing to do. If they thought there was a future event that was going to threaten the health of Austin Hedges, or any player we have on the field, every guy would go out in a heartbeat and fight. The group of guys out here, they're not soft. The group of guys here give me everything they've got out there on the field every single day."

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres, Austin Hedges, Anthony Rizzo