06/16/07 6:33 PM ET
Lee plunked, ejected after melee
Punches thrown as slugger not happy with Young's comments
By Carrie Muskat / Special to MLB.com
Chicago's Derrek Lee and San Diego's Chris Young both took swings at each other and sparked a bench-clearing skirmish after the Padres pitcher hit Lee in the fourth inning Saturday.
Lee, Young, Cubs hitting coach Gerald Perry and San Diego pitcher Jake Peavy were all ejected after the fracas near home plate at Wrigley Field.
Young and Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano both had no-hitters when Young plunked Lee with a pitch on his left hand to start the fourth inning. It was the fifth pitch in the at-bat, and Lee had ducked because the ball was coming at his head.
As Lee walked to first base, he exchanged words with Young. Lee then took a swing at the 6-foot-10 right-hander. Young retaliated with a right jab of his own, but neither player actually landed a punch. Both benches cleared, and Lee ended up underneath a pile of players near home plate. Peavy was on top of the Cubs first baseman, and sources said he was sucker-punching him.
Cubs manager Lou Piniella was seen tumbling backward over players who had fallen on the ground.
Neither Lee nor Young would comment on what was said between them.
"We had some dialogue, but that's between us," Lee said. "I don't get upset too often, but I don't like when a ball is thrown at my head. It was thrown right at my head."
Lee appeared to ask Young what was going on, and Young apparently was flip in telling Lee to get to first base. That's when Lee went after the pitcher.
"We had words, and I didn't agree with what he said," Lee said. "After getting thrown at your head, you're looking for something, kind of the right words type of thing. I didn't like what he said."
Said Young: "I'm not going to talk about it, but I didn't try to hit him and it doesn't have anything to do with anything that happened in the past."
What happened on Friday was that Soriano hit a solo homer in the sixth inning and watched the ball as it sailed over the left-field bleachers. Some of the Padres were upset at the way Soriano admired his homer.
"I didn't appreciate that. Just play the game," Peavy told The San Diego Union-Tribune on Friday. "They pay him $136 million to hit home runs. They don't pay him to be a circus act on the field. If I think a player shows me up like that, I like the next guy to take one in the stinkin' ribs. That way, his teammate will let him know about it, [he] will tell him, 'Hey, you better run the bases.'
"Respect the game. That's the way it used to be. When you were growing up, did you see anybody act like that? Now it's accepted."
San Diego pitcher David Wells also chimed in.
"I don't like people to show me up," Wells told the Union-Tribune. "Respect the game. I take offense when people stare at [their home run]. I don't show [hitters] up. I respect the game and the players."
Umpire crew chief Gerry Davis said he was aware of the comments by Peavy and Wells, but no warning was issued before the game.
"We pay quite a bit of attention to it," Davis said. "We have to be aware of those situations, and we were of the situation. 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, but after that, because of the melee, obviously we issued warnings after that."
Said Piniella: "I don't read the newspaper, so I really don't know about comments."
Soriano does not plan on altering his style.
"I do it all the time," Soriano said. "I enjoy my moment when I hit the ball. Why do I have to change? I'm not trying to offend anybody. It's not only me. I'm not trying to embarrass anybody."
Soriano hit three home runs on June 8 in Atlanta, and was hit by Braves pitcher Tim Hudson the next day in his first at-bat. Hudson was not ejected, but Chicago starter Ted Lilly was tossed immediately after he hit Edgar Renteria with two outs in the first inning on June 10.
"Let's see what the league wants to do," Piniella said. "They're inconsistent. We'll see what happens. I don't know. I hope nothing happens, but when there are fights, you have to expect something."
Zambrano carried his no-hitter into the eighth, but lost the game, 1-0, on Russell Branyan's home run with one out in the Padres' ninth.
Zambrano also was seen charging out of the Cubs' dugout when the fight broke out, and was half-dressed and trying to put his belt on. He had gone into the clubhouse to change jerseys, something he does after three innings in every start. Cubs third-base coach Mike Quade grabbed Zambrano before he got into the mix.
"Obviously, you're there trying to help separate people and and not get involved in it," said Quade, who bear-hugged Zambrano from behind. "[Zambrano] came out of the blue. Branyan had just come by me [from left field]. I had half of him, and all of sudden, 'Z' goes in there, and you know, the heck with everybody else, we can't lose him.
"He looked to see who it was. I think he realized that we needed him today."
Perry wasn't sure why he was tossed.
"I was trying to pull Peavy off Derrek Lee," Perry said. "[Peavy] was on [Lee's] back. After that, I was told I was thrown out of the game. I have no idea why. I was trying to break up the fight.
"I didn't do anything, I didn't throw a punch. I was just trying to break up a fight. I was trying to separate Peavy. Peavy jumped on Derrek's back, and the next thing I knew, when everything had stopped, I was ejected. I was as shocked as anybody that I was thrown out of the game."
Davis said the umpires noticed Peavy and Perry during the scuffling.
"They were just more aggressive than some of the others," Davis said. "We just try to play policemen as much as we can in that instance, stop things from escalating any further. Those were two of those people we thought were a lot more aggressive than some of the others."
Young also had started to warm up once the dust settled, and Lee had headed to the dugout. He didn't know he'd been tossed.
"We knew Young was going to be ejected because he had thrown punches," Davis said. "It's an automatic ejection for fighting."
Home-plate umpire Mike Everitt was slow to step between Lee and Young because he was talking to San Diego catcher Rob Bowen, who was arguing that the pitch didn't actually hit Lee, but hit the bat.
Lee admitted that the pitch "barely nicked me. It hit more of the bat."
"If it is possible for us to [intercede], we do," Davis said. "If you'll look at the tape, you'll see Mike is arguing with the catcher. The catcher didn't believe the pitch had hit him, so he was taking care of that argument. By the time that happened, you'll see he rushed there as quickly as he could once he saw something was about to happen."
It's tough to police 50 players, plus coaches and managers. The umpires reviewed the tape immediately after the game.
"We wanted to see if there were any things we weren't able to see, because when there are 50 people on the field, there are a lot of things you could miss, especially because it's very chaotic," Davis said. "Usually, if there are people that are more aggressive that are taking cheap shots, you can see that because it breaks out separately. We didn't see any additional things at the time. And I really didn't see anything on the video."
The umpires will file a report with Major League Baseball disciplinarian Bob Watson.
"From what I've heard about Chris Young, he's one of the good guys in baseball," Chicago's Cliff Floyd said. "He hit another great guy in Derrek Lee. You've got to ask [Young] why he did that."
Lee wasn't sure what to expect, but the Cubs already are short-handed with Aramis Ramirez on the disabled list until June 22-24.
"You can't do what I did," Lee said. "There are going to be penalties for it. I'm not exactly sure what it will be.
"I really don't mind getting hit, but when it's at my head, I feel it threatens my health. I don't know what his intent was, but it was at my head, and he said some things to me that I didn't like and it just escalated."
Was it clear to Lee that Young was throwing at him?
"That's kind of the response I got," Lee said.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.