|Thursday, March 28
Piazza loses temper after getting drilled on 3-0 pitch
VERO BEACH, Fla. -- Mets catcher Mike Piazza and Los Angeles reliever Guillermo Mota got into a shoving match and both benches cleared Thursday during New York's 5-1 victory over a Dodgers split squad.
Mota, acquired from Montreal last week, hit Piazza in the backside with a 3-0 pitch in the seventh inning.
Piazza gave Mota an angry look and was replaced by a pinch runner. Piazza remained on the Mets' bench rather than head to the clubhouse.
But when Mota passed the Mets' bench on his way to the clubhouse in the middle of the eighth, Piazza confronted him, grabbed him by the shirt and the shoving started.
"Right now, I can't say anything," Piazza said after being hit by a pitch for the fourth time this spring. "Give me a day or two and I'll talk about it."
The episode continued a turbulent start to Mota's career with the Dodgers. Recently traded from Montreal, he faced the Expos a day earlier and gave up six runs without retiring a batter.
"I don't want to talk about it," Mota said. "These last couple of days here have been unbelievable."
Dodgers pitching coach Jim Colborn said Mota told him he was trying to apologize to Piazza when the altercation began.
Colborn said Mota never meant to hit Piazza with a 3-0 pitch and a runner on first base.
"It's absolutely impossible to interpret that as something intentional," Colborn said.
Mets general manager Steve Phillips supported Piazza, but acknowledged that Mota's control problems may have caused the perennial All-Star to get hit.
"When he missed, he was missing by a lot today," Phillips said. "I don't know about the intent."
Colborn said he thought the altercation could result in a punishment from the NL office, but Phillips didn't expect anyone to get suspended.
"It was just a little chat," Phillips said. "It wasn't overly aggressive."
Mets starter Steve Trachsel pitched five shutout innings against a Dodgers lineup that included shortstop Cesar Izturis, second baseman Mark Grudzielanek and catcher Chad Kreuter as the only major leaguers.
Dodgers ace Kevin Brown threw 91 pitches and gave up two runs in 4 2-3 innings as he continued his recovery from elbow surgery. Barring elbow stiffness, Brown will start the season opener Tuesday against the San Francisco Giants.
"My arm feels good and we'll see how it reacts tomorrow," Brown said. "I don't foresee any problems the way things have been progressing."