Young insists plunking unintentional
Slugger Lee takes offense, but hurler says no malice in pitch
CHICAGO -- It wasn't exactly a premonition that led Marcus Giles toward home plate in the fourth inning Saturday at Wrigley Field, but more of a hunch on the part of the Padres second baseman.
Friars starting pitcher Chris Young had just plunked Derrek Lee with a pitch in the left hand, and, after he was sent tumbling in the dirt trying to evade the ball, the Cubs first baseman got up slowly and started to make his way to first base.
Giles sensed trouble.
"You could see it was something where nothing good was going to come from that, when D-Lee started walking towards him," Giles said. "It was a reaction to be there for one of your teammates. The last thing you want is something freak to happen."
But that's essentially what happened anyway.
After a brief discussion, Lee swung -- and missed -- at Young with a punch, and Young retaliated with a punch of his own that also didn't connect. Both benches cleared and order was restored, with Young and Lee earning ejections, as well as Padres pitcher Jake Peavy and Cubs hitting coach Gerald Perry.
Giles, for his part, intervened quickly, because he was in the vicinity of where Young and Lee met between the mound and the first-base line. The 5-foot-8 Giles dropped his head and drove his shoulders into the stomach of the 6-10 Young to get him away from Lee.
The ejections of Young and Lee were automatic for fighting. Peavy and Perry, according to umpire crew chief Gerry Davis, were because they were being "more aggressive than some of the others."
"Jake's an emotional player. He pitches with a lot of passion and wears his emotions on his sleeve," manager Bud Black said of Peavy, who didn't talk to reporters after the game. "From what I was told, he was blindsided. But Jake's a team player, he's going to go out and try to break up a fight and protect his guys."
Young, Lee, Peavy and Perry were not around to see the wild finish of a game that included Cubs starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano throwing 7 1/3 no-hit innings, only to allow a home run to Russell Branyan in the ninth inning, as the Padres defeated the Cubs, 1-0, before a stunned crowd of 41,632.
After the game, the two more prominent players in the on-field altercation -- Young and Lee -- each refused to comment on what exactly was said between the two shortly before the 6-foot-5 Lee unleashed a punch in the direction of Young.
"We had words, and I didn't really agree with what he said," Lee said. "Him throwing at your head, you're kind of looking for the right words. I didn't like what he said."
Young, who had a no-hitter through the first three innings before being ejected, wouldn't comment on the dialogue he had with Lee, other than to say that, "I didn't try to hit him ... and it doesn't have anything to do with anything that happened in the past. I wish I could have stayed in the game longer."
There was an inference made that Young's pitch that hit Lee might have been some sort of retribution from perceived showboating by Alfonso Soriano after his home run Friday off David Wells, especially since Peavy was the one who took offense to Soriano's long look at his home run.
But such a suggestion was quickly shot down by Black, even if the umpires were on guard for a potential incident.
"We have to be aware of those situations," Davis said. "We have to determine if we feel those types of things are intentional or not. We didn't feel that Young's pitch was intentional."
That was the sentiment coming from the Padres' clubhouse, especially from Black.
"Chris was throwing the ball great, and for him to get ejected is unfortunate ... when he didn't instigate anything, when he was, in a word, defending himself," Black said.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.