Jenks, Greinke pitching with purpose

May, 11, 2009
5/11/09
4:13
PM ET
Bobby Jenks could probably use a lesson from Crash Davis about talking to the writers after the game ...
    Asked if the ninth-inning pitch that came with two outs "got away from him," Jenks said emphatically that he threw the pitch with a purpose, after Rangers starter Kevin Millwood had hit Chris Getz and Carlos Quentin with pitches earlier.

     Greinke
     Jenks
    "No, I meant to. To send a message," Jenks said, according to the newspaper. "Basically I was saying, 'I'm sick of seeing our guys get hit and hurt and almost get taken out of the game.' I threw it with intention."

    [Ian] Kinsler popped out to second to end the game after home plate umpire Lance Barksdale issued warnings to both teams.

    Jenks added his intent wasn't to hit Kinsler.

    "I'm not going to put a guy on in that situation," he said, according to the Tribune. "I was not going to hit him. I made my point with that pitch and it came across the way I wanted it to.

    "I'm not going to go dirty. I was going to keep it low and behind him."

I don't get it. If you're trying to send a message, don't you have to try to hit the guy? You know, since two of your guys got hit? Dirty or not, Jenks should be fined or suspended, simply because MLB cannot allow acknowledged purpose pitches to go unpunished. Or even, in some cases, unacknowledged. Before Zack Greinke's last start -- but after this game, in which he almost decapitated Alexei Ramirez -- I received the following missive from my old left-handed friend, Rob Nelson ...
    The Zack Attack out of KC is a bit scary. The kid is a head-hunter. I wonder if it is possible to file an "anticipatory lawsuit" vs. Greinke for intent to cause bodily harm, to be used when he eventually hurts someone. It could be called a conigliaro case. Lengthy video clips of Zack's pitching tendencies could be used at the trial to show the dangerous pattern. I would include Selig in the suit, too, for his unwillingness to protect the players who are at risk.

    Zack's stuff is so good he does not need to endanger the lives of others. The "that's baseball" cliché is no sane response. He is armed with a weapon -- and just because he is missing his targets now does not make his method right. Would our society allow him to fire bullets over people's heads?

    Same with 96 mph heaters to the head area. I know his 6-0 record and that 0.40 ERA are dazzling numbers. But when the No. 1 shows up - as in the number of players he's maimed, or worse - how will fans react? Surely they will not be surprised. And only a few of us will be outraged.

    Selig, of course, will say the injury is regrettable, "but these things happen in baseball." And everyone will nod sadly in agreement. Well, almost everyone.

    Greinke's story is a time bomb waiting to go off. Nellie knows these things.

It's not likely that Greinke will maim somebody. He might break somebody's hand or cause a concussion, but it's exceptionally rare for a player to be seriously injured. I also think it's worth pointing out that Greinke's almost certainly not trying to hit anyone. In 53 innings this season, he's walked eight batters. If he really wanted to hit someone, he probably could. He's hit exactly one batter. Last season, he hit four batters in 202 innings (as best I can recall, none were maimed).

Yes, it's possible that even Greinke will come just a bit too far inside someday and clip someone in the noggin. As hard as he can throw, the results could be tragic. I don't see any sort of criminal or civil proceedings, though. Greinke's got precedent on his side. A lot of precedent. Forget about the history lessons, with noted headhunters like Don Drysdale and Bob Gibson lionized. Just nine years ago, Pedro Martinez walked 32 batters, and hit 14. Two seasons later, he walked 40 and hit 15. If anyone ever had a good case for unacknowledged intent, it was most of the batters Pedro hit in 2000 and 2002.

I wish Zack wouldn't throw those pitches. Leaving aside the fact that he probably doesn't "need" to throw brushback pitches, I'd hate to see him miss by just a few inches and really hurt someone. I'm just not sure what anyone can do about it, except for MLB being both vigilant and relatively intolerant. These might be big men playing a boys' game. But men get hurt sometimes, too.

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