Remorseful Quentin defends actions against Greinke
SAN DIEGO -- After a night to reflect on the events of Thursday's benches-clearing incident at Petco Park, Padres left fielder Carlos Quentin sounded equal parts repentant and resolute Friday about the role that he played in the episode.
Quentin and three Dodgers -- pitcher Zack Greinke, outfielder Matt Kemp and infielder Jerry Hairston Jr. -- were ejected in the sixth inning after Quentin charged the mound after being hit high on the left arm by a Greinke pitch.
Quentin received an eight-game suspension on Friday, as well as an undisclosed fine. He will appeal the suspension. Hairston received a one-game suspension.
Greinke sustained a fractured collarbone in the melee. It was announced on Friday that he will have surgery that will cause him to miss approximately eight weeks.
For that, Quentin said, he was sorry.
"It's an unfortunate situation," Quentin said. "I do have a lot of remorse that someone did get hurt.
"But I will repeat that I felt I had to protect myself and what happened on that field was a result that could have been avoided."
As he did late Thursday, Quentin alluded to previous history he has with Greinke, who had hit him on two occasions previously -- in 2008 and again in '09 when Quentin played for the White Sox and Greinke was with the Royals.
And Quentin reiterated that he might not have charged the mound had he not been baited by Greinke, who appeared to say something after Quentin took a few steps toward the mound. After that, Quentin charged the mound as the two made contact before a scrum ensued.
"What I saw was an expletive [from Greinke] and then whatever was directed towards me," Quentin said. "I didn't go out there until I was provoked to go out there."
Quentin, who was in the lineup on Friday, is aware that many want to bury him for his role in Thursday's events. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly even said that Quentin should not be allowed to play again until Greinke us able to play again.
"People will be villainized," Quentin said. "… All I ask is that you pay attention to what's in front of your eyes."
Quentin's teammate, veteran outfielder Mark Kotsay, was the one who literally dragged Quentin away from the on-field scrum and toward the home clubhouse. In his 17th Major League season, Kotsay said the incident is part of the game and happens when emotions are involved.
"Big men, big bodies … a lot of emotion," Kotsay said.
After the game, Quentin and Kemp were separated in the area of the ballpark that leads to the parking garage. San Diego pitcher Clayton Richard acted as an intermediary.
"I wouldn't say he was out there waiting for me. I believe he was walking to the bus," Quentin said of Kemp. "He was enraged, obviously, with what happened to his teammate. He wanted to approach me aggressively. I tried to explain to him, but he didn't want to listen."
Kotsay played with Quentin previously with the White Sox and spent 2011 with the Brewers, where he was a teammate of Greinke's.
"The reaction was maybe a little enticing to Carlos as to whatever was said," Kotsay said. "Maybe it's 'I've got to go be a man and take care of my problem that exists.'"
Kotsay said that hitters in general -- even for someone like Quentin who has now been hit 116 times in his Major League career -- are often left in a vulnerable place standing in the batters' box.
"I've had teammates who have been hit in consecutive at-bats," Kotsay said. "There's a point where you have to go defend yourself. There's really no defense to a ball coming at you 90 mph and hitting you. It doesn't feel good. It leaves a pretty good mark and there's serious injury that can be sustained."
Especially for someone like Quentin, who has twice led the league in being hit by pitches. Quentin was plunked 17 times last season, the most in the National League, even though he missed half the season.
"I understand someone was hurt. I've been hit a lot of times in my career. I understand why I get hit. I understand it's a part of how I approach hitting. I understand pitchers need to do their job," Quentin said. "But I've never gone out there until last night."
Quentin talked about the previous two times he was hit by Greinke. The '09 incident is still fresh in his memory.
"It was a pitch directly over my head," Quentin said of a ball he got out of the way of. "The next pitch was directly at my face. If I don't put my shoulder in the way, it hits my face. That's what happened."
On Friday, Quentin's former White Sox teammate Paul Konerko defended him.
"I'm not surprised, no. I think like he said, if you know the history and you know the pieces of the puzzle, it kind of all makes sense," Konerko said. "So, you know, hopefully the people out there don't look at, I think, as an isolated event like it was something that just happened last night.
"I think when you put all the pieces together, I think you find yourself being on Carlos' side a little bit more. I think it was three hit-by-pitches, but if you watch the games I've watched, he's probably had more than five pitches that have gone over his head."
So, now what?
The Padres head to Dodger Stadium for three games beginning Monday, the first of 16 more games between the two teams still left on the schedule.
Padres catcher John Baker thinks the incident is over with.
"In my opinion, this was about a personal history between two guys. There was an issue, and I think it was settled last night," Baker said.