JUPITER, Fla. - The benches and bullpens have cleared at Roger Dean Stadium in the top of the seventh, after ex-Nationals pitcher Miguel Batista, now with the Cardinals, hit Ian Desmond in the back with a pitch.
It was the third time today that a player has been plunked. Washington's Laynce Nix was hit in the shoulder by St. Louis starter Chris Carpenter in the top of the fifth, and in the bottom of the inning, Nats starter Livan Hernandez returned the favor, hitting Colby Rasmus.
After Desmond was hit, he looked quizzically at Batista, palms extended to question why the action occurred. Home plate umpire Fran Burke, who was in the midst of warning both dugouts as the benches emptied, followed an upset Desmond down to first base.
Nationals manager Jim Riggleman had two extended and animated conversations - with St. Louis skipper Tony LaRussa and, after order was sort of restored, with Cardinals coach Joe Pettini. Riggleman had to be restrained by other members of the Nationals both times.
Batista was ejected from the game and seemed unsure why he was being banished. Batista, you'll recall, was ejected from a game in June by umpire Joe West for hitting Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips, who had run toward Desmond the previous inning trying to move between second and third in hopes of drawing an interference call.
The Nationals and Cardinals have bad blood dating to last year, too. Nyjer Morgan took a beeline for Cards catcher Bryan Anderson in an Aug. 28 game - even though Anderson was standing a step or two in front of home plate.
Morgan wasn't really a part of this fracas, though he was one of the first players out of the dugout. In fact, while War's "Why Can't We Be Friends" was blaring over the stadium loudspeakers, Morgan was standing with his arm draped over spring training instructor Trent Jewett, who had his arm over Morgan's shoulder.
Earlier, in the fifth inning, Morgan collided with Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols' arm as he crossed first when he was thrown out after bouncing a ball in front of the plate. Pujols had to be checked by a trainer but remained in the game.