CLEARWATER, Fla. - Stephen Strasburg hit Chase Utley on the left ankle.
Roy Halladay threw behind Tyler Moore.
Strasburg said he had no reason to hit Utley. Halladay said the pitch to Moore slipped.
Then Halladay smiled.
What was set up to be another quiet Grapefruit League game between the Phillies regulars and a Nationals lineup made up primarily of minor leaguers turned a bit more interesting in the third and fourth innings this afternoon.
Strasburg and Halladay already shared their thoughts on the in-game incidents a bit ago. After the Phillies wrapped up a 6-3 win over the Nats, it was Davey Johnson’s turn to address what happened.
“I asked Moore, because I didn’t think anything (of it), because I knew Strasburg didn’t hit nobody on purpose,” Johnson said. “I asked Moore if there’s a history there (with Halladay). He said, ‘There is now.’ I wouldn’t want Moore coming after me, I know that.
“But much ado about nothing. I didn’t think anything about it. Stras, I guess he hit Utley. I wish he’d hit more people. He doesn’t usually pitch that much inside. But that happened. That was a good thing.”
Told Halladay denied that he intended to throw behind Moore and then subsequently smiled, Johnson smiled himself.
“Maybe (Cole) Hamels is coaching him,” Johnson said, referring to Hamels hitting Bryce Harper last year.
There’s been a lot of talk between the Phillies and Nationals recently. In addition to all the Hamels-Harper-Mike Rizzo stuff, there were comments made by Jimmy Rollins at the very end of the 2012 regular season, in which Rollins claimed that if the Phillies were healthy, they would have won the National League East instead of the Nationals.
It sure seems like the Phillies are putting more focus on the Nats lately.
“Doesn’t bother me at all. There should be some focus on us,” Johnson said. “We won the pennant last year. Why not? We had our problems, they had their problems. But we finished on top. It’s a whole new year. Last year is history. ...
“(The) Phillies had a great run. It’s nice now that they’re thinking about us. It’s been a while. Talk is cheap. I don’t get too involved in all that. It’s gonna happen on the field. It’s a new season. Phillies got a great organization. Got some great talent over there. As does Atlanta and some other clubs. We’ve got a ways to go before we start doing battle. It’s just spring training.”
One Nationals player said that Moore was riled up by Halladay’s purpose pitch, but Moore chose to stay out of the fray after the game, passing up a chance to take a shot at Halladay through the media.
“I don’t know. Maybe it slipped out of his hand? I don’t know what was going on,” Moore said. “I don’t know. It’s just spring training, so it’s not the regular season. I wouldn’t think he’d throw at me, but it is what it is.
“He missed a little inside. He’s a competitor, man, and I don’t know if he was protecting his team or what, but I know that he knows that it’s spring training. He’s a professional. He’s done this for a long time. Maybe it just slipped out of his hand.”
For what it’s worth, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel seemed to appreciate how Halladay handled things in regards to his pitch behind Moore.
“I like it. That’s baseball, really,” Manuel said. “In the past, it’s not like we don’t take care of our hitters, but it seemed like some of them - especially Utley - gets hit more than anybody. Left-handed pitchers throw in on him a lot, so that’s one reason they hit him. They try to get in on him. But you’re supposed to take care of your hitters.”
Manuel was told of Halladay’s comments about protecting his teammates.
“When he says something like that, I like it,” Manuel said. “But Roy isn’t a big vocal guy. But he don’t have to be, either. He definitely leads by example - the way he carries himself, how he pitches and what he does.”