Friday, March 05, 2010

Barry Zito Carries Six-Month-Old Grudges, If Not Velocity

Still smarting from a Prince Fielder walk-off victory over the Giants last year, Barry Zito sought to get even by drilling Fielder with the first pitch in a spring training game (link through to see the video, but we won't embed since it will evaporate in a week, and our blog respects more permanent artifacts!). You go, Barry:

Barry Zito's fastball clocked in at an average of 86.5 miles per hour last season -- the fourth-slowest velocity for any starter in the majors. But as the left-hander showed Thursday, a well-timed heater in the right spot can still make an eloquent statement.

Six months after Prince Fielder riled the Giants with an elaborate home run celebration, Zito got even. He plunked Fielder in the back in the first inning of a Cactus League game between the Giants and Brewers at Scottsdale Stadium.

Fielder picked up the ball and flipped it back to Zito, then jogged to first base without incident. Home plate umpire Ted Barrett did not issue a warning to the teams and Milwaukee manager Ken Macha later referred to the incident as a "non-issue."

After leaving the game, the two players had decidedly different reactions. Zito seemed detached to the point of oblivious. Fielder was admittedly miffed, but expressed the hope that any animosity between the two teams is now history.

"I've always said, 'I play the game hard. I run hard. And after that, I don't care what anybody thinks,' " Fielder said. "If that's what they've gotta do, that's what they've gotta do. Let them hit me once, and if that makes them feel better, that's awesome. Now we can just play baseball."

To be fair, Fielder is a hard guy to miss. But at least he can rest easy knowing a 86-mph fastball from a #3 pitcher doesn't really hurt all that much, even in the small of one's back.

And don't fret, Giant fans! You only have Zito for four more seasons. By 2013, he'll be drilling people with reckless abandon. With 75-mph fastballs, no less.


rbnlaw said...

The whole "Bowling Alley" thing was an abomination that Sports Center couldn't stop showing. Waiting the better part of 7 months to get him back is almost as ridiculous.

Hope Gnats fans enjoy the remainder of the Curse of Jason Schmidt.