MLB makes pitch to keep calm at Jacobs

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 29, 2005

The Twins and Indians better play nice. Or else.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire already has been put on notice. Bob Watson, baseball's chief disciplinarian, sent a letter in which he threatened him with a five-game suspension for any resumption of the hostilities that surfaced earlier this month at the Metrodome.

The teams begin a four-game series Monday night at Jacobs Field.

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"We will take nothing," the letter stated ominously.

But following Sunday's extra-inning victory over the Brewers, Gardenhire said he wasn't even going to tell his players about the warning.

"I'm not telling nobody," he said. "These are grown men. We are going in there to play baseball. If (stuff) happens, (stuff) happens."

Stuff probably will happen. Lots and lots of stuff. If it doesn't happen early in the series, then it likely will in the finale when C.C. Sabathia and Brad Radke tangle in a rematch. Sabathia is open about hating the Twins.

Gardenhire was fined $750 for being ejected in the series finale against Cleveland on May 5. He was livid after the umpires issued a warning to both teams. Two Twins were hit by pitches that day. No Indians were hit.

Shannon Stewart also was fined $1,000 for having words with reliever Jason Davis after a play at the plate. Davis drilled Stewart with a pitch earlier. He has since been demoted to the minors.

"That guy got what he deserved," Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson noted.

Asked what he expected in Cleveland, hot-hitting Lew Ford said: "I know what you're saying, but I don't want to fuel anything. I don't know what to expect over there."

Michael Cuddyer shrugged.

"Who knows what's going to happen? I saw Jason Davis was sent down. Whatever happens, happens."

The Twins-Indians rivalry has taken a nasty turn over the past year or so. Sabathia and Torii Hunter have been feuding for some time. Sabathia usually pitches tight to Hunter.

On May 5, benches cleared following the Stewart-Davis confrontation behind the plate. Davis was backing up a throw as Stewart scored. The two brushed past each other and exchanged words.

The problem has been that one or two Twins get hit, then the umpire issues a warning before there is any retaliation. Gardenhire's thinking is: If their guy is throwing at our guys, eject him.

It was suggested to Gardenhire - OK, by me - that Kyle Lohse, tonight's starter, should drill the first Cleveland hitter in the ribs, thereby getting in the first and last lick before the warning is issued.

"I can't," Gardenhire insisted. "Watson said that at the first sign, everyone goes. I'll get a five-game suspension and my pitcher will be gone."

No doubt Cleveland manager Eric Wedge received the same warning.

It should be interesting. The buildup makes it feel like the old North Stars are going to Chicago to play the Blackhawks. With all the bad blood, you know there is going to be trouble.

Tom Powers is a sports columnist at the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press.