Thursday, March 13, 2003

Piazza charges mound after plunking

The Associated Press

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Mike Piazza charged the mound and started a bench-clearing brawl Wednesday night after he was hit by a pitch from Guillermo Mota during the Los Angeles Dodgers' 13-6 win over the New York Mets in a split-squad game.

Piazza and Mota had a shoving match last year in spring training after he hit the star catcher with a pitch.

This time, Mota's first pitch to Piazza in the sixth inning was inside, and his second hit him in the back of the left shoulder.

Piazza immediately charged the mound, with his right fist cocked for a punch, and Mota threw his glove at him and began backpedaling away.

"If he wants to hit somebody he needs to stand there and fight," Mets manager Art Howe said. "He backpedaled faster than I can run forward."

Both benches emptied, with Mets outfielder Jeromy Burnitz leading the chase after Mota while Piazza was restrained on the mound by several Dodgers. Mota made it to the dugout without being caught.

An irate Piazza, red-faced and glaring with rage, yelled at Mota while being restrained by coaches and umpires. Twice he tried to charge the first-base dugout, but was held back both times.

"It was intentional, and they knew it, too," Howe said. "It was a setup."

After Mota hit Piazza in the hip with a pitch last March, he waited until the pitcher was coming off the field in the eighth inning and grabbed him by the jersey, but no punches were thrown.

"Obviously, he remembers the fact that the guy reached up and tried to choke him a year ago," Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said. "I'm sure major league baseball will sort this out, we'll sort this out and we'll move on."

Both Mota and Piazza were ejected. No punches appeared to land during the fight.

"This boils down to nothing more than history between the two guys that started at Holman Stadium last year and carried itself over," Tracy said. "I think the thing that needs to be done in a case like this is for both sides to work very hard to get it resolved and get it over with.

"The last thing you want in the case of the Dodgers and the Mets is work as hard as we do and then feel like a season is going to start and you're going to be without players."

Piazza left the ballpark while the game was still going without speaking to reporters.

Mota also left the stadium during the game and did not comment. The pitcher hit a three-run homer in the top of the sixth off Mets closer Armando Benitez.

Mota was once a shortstop in the Mets organization.

The Mets and Dodgers are scheduled to play two exhibition games against each other this weekend in Mexico City. They play once more in Florida during spring training, on March 25.

"I knew after the first pitch, it looked like intent out there," Burnitz said. "Bottom line, I thought it was wrong. You saw how I reacted."

The Dodgers took a 3-1 lead off right-hander Aaron Heilman, who is vying for the final spot in the Mets' rotation. Heilman gave up five hits and three walks in three innings.

Dodgers third baseman Adrian Beltre increased the lead to 7-1 when he hit a three-run homer in the fifth off David Weathers.

"That was the hardest home run ever hit off me," Weathers said. "Not the longest, the hardest."

Mota made it 10-1 with his three-run shot.

Scores and game wrap-ups

Bearcats blindsided by Southern Miss
DAUGHERTY: Committee holds UC's fate
Like Mardi Gras for Southern Miss
Other Conference USA games
C-USA Tournament Glance
Marquette's Wade C-USA player of year

XU right at home in UD Arena
West again A-10 player of year
Dayton finally gets to play

For Miami, first things first
Does UK need to lose?
UK sweeps SEC coaches' honors
Big East: St. John's trips Notre Dame
Wagner wins Northeast berth
Weber St. to represent Big Sky
Georgia players sue school

Bengals clearing path for Palmer
TE Kelly first addition to Bengals' offense
Playoffs Spikes' top priority in Buffalo
Blake steps into Arizona QB job
Luchey ready to start winning
NFL minorities organize
Raiders sign ex-49er Stubblefield
Officiating mistakes lead to dismissals

Manzanillo could land in bullpen
Reds Notebook: Wilson's debut delayed
Yankees 10, Reds 5
Schott hospitalized again
Piazza charges mound after plunking
Other spring training games
Spring Training Standings
Bonds' ball dispute settled
Baseball Notebook: Ex-Red may have cancer

Arnie and Jack stage final go-round

Roddick rides serve to second-round win

Today's basketball schedule
NCH girls carry city banner to state
6-8 Clemons leads Reading to final
Madeira's surprise run ends
Middletown dumps boys basketball coach
Ky. Games: Holy Cross, Boone, Brossart advance

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