San Diego Padres' Carlos Quentin charges into Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke after being hit by a pitch in the sixth inning of baseball game in San Diego, Thursday, April 11, 2013. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
Carlos Quentin may not be in the lineup (he's serving his 8-game suspension), but he's still Public Enemy #1 in Dodger Nation for charging the mound in an altercation that left Los Angeles starter (and former Cy Young Award winner) Zack Greinke with a broken collarbone.
Dodgers players have issued some not-so-thinly-veiled threats since the fracas.
"If he's smart, he'll take the suspension," said fellow starter Clayton Kershaw, another Cy Young winner. "Eight games is not nearly enough."
With comments like that, it's easy to think there will be retaliation. However, the Padres either don't think it's coming, or aren't going to admit it.
“Like all Dodgers – Padres game, I think there’s going to be some intensity to it," said Padres manager Bud Black. "But, I don’t suspect any problems. Our guys know what’s going on. You know, we’re all professionals. We’ll handle it that way.”
Starting pitcher Eric Stults, who takes the mound for the Padres against Chad Billingsley, agrees.
“I think there’s no reason not to just be professional, go about your business, and do your job," said Stults.
That's how the Padres see it. But, the guys in the other clubhouse lost a valuable teammate. They might not be so quick to return to the status quo. LA's guys might have a shorter fuse, more apt to think an inside pitch is sending a message instead of missing location. However, Stults is not going to abandon half of the plate. No pitcher would.
“I don’t think you can change anything," said Stults. "You’ve gotta stick with the game plan and try to put that out of your head. Obviously, what happened in the other game is unfortunate. It’s unfortunate that Zack got hurt. But, you can’t change your approach to the game and change the way you pitch. I have no beef with any of their guys so I’m just going to keep pitching my game and try to make quality pitches.”
Rookie infielder Jedd Gyorko found himself in the middle of a bench-clearer in his second week in the Big Leagues. His adrenaline is already spiked just being here. But he agrees, Monday night's meeting will simply be number 13 of 162.
“It’s just going to a regular game," said Gyorko. "I don’t think anything’s going to come out of it too much. Obviously we’re not going to worry about that stuff, and just go from there.”
The outside perception does not match the inside narrative. A Dodgers spokesperson told NBC 7 there's a lot more national interest in this game than there normally is for a Monday game in April.
Tonight's first pitch is a 7:10 p.m. at Dodgers Stadium.