Leyland, Grilli revisited
Just when you thought the drama between Jim Leyland and Jason Grilli had long since passed, along came a 92 mph fastball from Jason Grilli that went behind Tigers batter Clete Thomas, head-high. It came in the fifth inning, with the Rangers on their way to a 7-3 win.
By the time the night was over, it was the catalyst for the inside pitches that left both dugouts with a warning from home-plate umpire Andy Fletcher.
The pitch in question came just after Thomas hit a long foul ball down the right-field line. But would Grilli, a Detroit teammate of Thomas to open the 2008 season, throw at him?
“When you don’t throw any wild pitches the rest of the time you’re out there, and one goes behind his head after a loud foul, it just looks suspicious,” Leyland said. “I’m not saying he did or he didn’t, but it did look suspicious. We were trying to send a message back.”
Leyland later described Grilli’s pitch as “careless.”
“I don’t know,” he said. “I didn’t know what to think, whether he did or didn’t do it on purpose. That’s part of the game. Just go on about your business.”
You might remember the exchange of words between Leyland and Grilli last year. The Tigers traded Grilli to Colorado early in the year, and Grilli later was quoted in a Bob Nightengale article detailing the chemistry issues surrounding the ’08 Tigers.
Grilli has worked hard to put that behind him, and he didn’t indicate any hard feelings.
“I had great experiences over there,” he said. “I’ve been with the Tigers more than with any team in my career. It’s bragging rights, playing against your friends.”
The Tigers’ message pitch came an inning and a half after Grilli’s inside pitch, and immediately after Andrus homered to make it a 7-3 game. Zach Miner threw his next pitch behind Ian Kinsler.
“We weren’t trying to throw the ball behind Kinsler,” Leyland said. “We were trying to throw the ball down and in on him to get him to move his feet, just to send a message back. No question about it. And I’d do it again, because I felt Grilli’s was a real careless pitch. I think careless is a pretty good description of it.”
Once Eddie Guardado’s first pitch of the next inning went inside to Adam Everett, his teammate on the Twins last year, the dugouts were warned and several players were cxchanging words.
“I just don’t think there was anything to it,” Everett said. “To get it tight is one thing. To try to hit somebody is another.”
Leyland was seen talking intently with Fletcher and crew chief Tim McClelland after the inning ended.
“I just wanted to explain to them that we felt Grilli threw a purpose pitch after Thomas hit a loud foul,” Leyland said. “And the purpose pitch was at his head.”
The one player hit by a ball was Ramon Santiago, and it was a fourth-inning foul tip that knocked him out of the game with a bruised right shin. He’s day-to-day.