TUCSON - It might have been “just spring training,” as Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly said, but the action can get quite heated at times — which it did at Tucson Electric Park on Monday.
The benches for Arizona and the Seattle Mariners cleared after the teams exchanged hit batsmen in the sixth inning of a game that eventually ended in a 6-6 tie.
In the top of the frame, Arizona’s Miguel Batista put Bret Boone out of the game by hitting the Seattle second baseman in the forearm with a sinker that went awry. On the first pitch of the bottom half, Jeff Nelson plunked Luis Gonzalez in the back.
The dugouts emptied, but no punches were thrown.
“I think he did it on his own,” Gonzalez said of Nelson. “He’s a veteran, and doing something stupid like that is uncalled for. It’s spring training, no one was trying to hurt anyone, and I guess he showed their young pitchers a bad example.
“We got back at him. We got three runs against him. I wish it had been a regular-season game, where those runs went on his ERA.”
Gonzalez also departed after he was hit. He said that while both teams were on the field, Mariners manager Bob Melvin — a former bench coach with Arizona — told him he did not call for a beanball.
Batista said he was simply trying to work inside to a good hitter.
“That’s pro baseball,” Batista said. “You have to protect your hitters, and there’s going to be payback. It’s unfortunate, though, because the payback should be to me, not Gonzo.”
Byung-Hyun Kim made his second straight impressive start, allowing two hits and no runs while walking one and striking out five in four innings. He threw 53 pitches (32 for strikes) and didn’t deliver more than seven pitches to any batter.
The performance of Kim, attempting a transition from closer to starter, was especially encouraging considering he was facing a Seattle lineup of mostly left-handed hitters.
“With four days of rest, I can throw 100 pitches,” Kim said through an interpreter. “With more rest, I could get to 200. The pitch count has never bothered me, not in my whole history in baseball.”
Kim’s change-up, which the Diamondbacks feel will be effective against lefties, improved as the game progressed. That pitch, Brenly said, should keep lefties less likely to anticipate Kim’s slider.
BUTT OF JOKES
Evidently, “vandals” broke into the visiting manager’s office the night before Monday’s game and left a few surprises for Melvin.
Upon arriving, Melvin found that his shoelaces and uniform pant legs had been knotted together. Also, he had a gift — a fungo bat with an inch-wide hole drilled in the sweet spot.
“After I snap this (bat), it will go in the garbage,” Melvin said, smiling, before the game. “It’s been quite a morning, but I have a few suspects.”
Melvin and Brenly were planning to have dinner together on Monday.
Outfielders David Dellucci and Luis Garcia had MRI exams on their sore knees on Monday in Phoenix, but the results were not immediately known.
Randy Johnson, scheduled to start today’s game against Texas, was not at Monday’s game. He was in the Valley, meeting with Mariners pitcher Ryan Anderson, a lanky left-hander who is nicknamed “The Little Unit.”
Johnson was expected to talk to Anderson — a first-round draft pick in 1997 who has struggled with inconsistency and injuries — about the work ethic needed to be successful.
Matt Williams, who has missed six games while suffering from the flu, is expected to start at third base today. Craig Counsell gets a day off.
Rod Barajas will catch Johnson today, and Chad Moeller will receive for Schilling in a minor league game on Wednesday. Barajas had caught all of Schilling’s starts this spring, while Moeller usually works with Johnson.
“We need to mix pitchers and catchers up so there won’t be any breaking-in period should we have to do it in the regular season,” Brenly said.