The Tigers and Twins have enough history over the last few years that they have quite a rivalry going. Nothing that could happen in Spring Training is going to change that. It’s mid-March in Lakeland, the Twins have a travel roster, and the Tigers have plenty of things to figure out on their own to get ready for the season.
Brad Penny hasn’t even been a part of this rivalry, having never pitched in the AL Central. Still, it was tough to ignore just a little bit of competitiveness between Penny, who was trying to establish the inside part of the plate, and the Twins, who had two Major League hitters take pitches on the arm.
Young was hit up his left arm by a Penny pitch in the third inning and barely got to first base when he was replaced by a pinch-runner. No lengthy consultation with the trainer or anything. Young himself had a surprised look on his way into the dugout. With most teams, veteran hitters who make a long road trip in the Grapefruit League usually get to play most of the game, if not all nine innings, to justify the trip.
Alexi Casilla seemed a little riskier when he took a pitch around his right elbow. He also seemed quite motivated to steal second base, taking a big lead when Penny looked over and then taking off on his first pitch. Alex Avila’s throw in the dirt hit him on his left leg and bounced away, allowing him to take third and eventually score on Ben Revere’s triple.
When asked about taking Casilla out of the game, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told reporters he was “disappointed.”
From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
“Both of them could have continued playing if it was during the season,” Gardenhire said. “I was a little disappointed we got drilled there, so whatever.”
Penny said he was working on the inside part of the plate now to get his control going.
“I’m just trying to move their feet,” Penny said. “If I hit them, I hit them. I don’t want to miss over the plate.”
Don’t make too much of this particular deal. After all, we’ve seen pitchers retaliate for hit batters by hitting someone on the other team, even in spring training. Remember the Red Sox-Tigers fracas from a few years ago in Lakeland? Or Nate Cornejo hitting Ricky Ledee intentionally years ago in Clearwater, drawing a suspension for both himself and manager Alan Trammell?
Neither Gardenhire nor Twins pitchers and hitters those that route. And neither Young nor Castilla made any motion in Penny’s direction after being hit.