BOSTON — A day after four players were ejected in a benches-clearing incident that featured Kevin Gregg and David Ortiz throwing punches, the Orioles closer maintained that he had no regrets, while the Red Sox All-Star designated hitter apologized for his actions.
Ortiz charged Gregg in the bottom of the eighth inning after the Orioles pitcher yelled at him as he jogged to first base. Ortiz took umbrage to Gregg throwing three straight pitches inside, while Gregg didn't appreciate the fact that Ortiz had walked toward the mound a pitch earlier, and then swung at a 3-0 pitch in a seven-run game.
"I apologize to everyone for the situation, even to them, man," said Ortiz, who didn't talk to reporters after Friday's game. "I have a lot of friends on that ballclub. Even Gregg, though I don't even know him, but he doesn't seem like a crazy person out there. It's a situation that happened, and I'm not happy about it, and this is not what people come to see when they come to the [park]. Hopefully, we'll stay away from that and everybody can turn the page."
Ortiz also said there was "no question" that Gregg was throwing at him intentionally.
"He's a guy who I've always faced and he's never pitched in. He threw a whole bunch of pitches inside and I'm sure he was trying to hit me," Ortiz said. "After I hit the fly ball, he started screaming at me, you know what I'm saying? I'm not going to take that like a little [wuss], you know what I'm saying? Everyone's a grown man around here, and you've got to be aware of the situation."
After Friday's game, Gregg maintained that he wasn't throwing at Ortiz and that you have to pitch the slugger inside to get him out. He reiterated that message before tonight's game, while disputing the comments of Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett, who also alleged that Gregg was throwing at Ortiz.
"Josh has no idea," Gregg said. "If I wanted to hit him, I would have hit him. There have been times that I've hit guys on purpose, and I wasn't trying to hit [Ortiz] on purpose. I was trying to get him out, and you have to pitch in to get him out."
Gregg said he will fight any disciplinary action taken by the league, which is essentially a formality.
"What did I do wrong?," Gregg said. "To me, I don't think I did anything wrong. I pitched, I made my pitches. I got him out. I'd be interested to see if there was anybody out there that says that I did something wrong, because last time I checked, I played the game of baseball the way it should be played."
While Gregg didn't say it, several Orioles maintained that they were more ticked with former teammate Matt Albers than they were with Ortiz. Pitching in a five-run game, the Red Sox reliever struck out four of the six hitters that he faced and celebrated two of those strikeouts with a series of fist pumps. The Orioles also alleged that Albers shouted an expletive toward their dugout on his way off the mound.
Hendrickson finally gets call
There were plenty of times this season when veteran Mark Hendrickson wondered if his persistence and hard work would pay off and result in him being on a big league roster for the 10th straight season.
It took nearly the entire first half of the season, but the big left-hander finally got the call Saturday and had his contract selected from Triple-A Norfolk, where he was 2-4 with a 2.87 ERA in 19 appearances for the Tides.
"It's hard to put into words when you think about what I went through in spring training to handle all the emotional things that came with that," Hendrickson said. "It's pretty gratifying. I feel like a 22-year-old rookie right now. It's exciting. It's something that's probably the most meaningful moment in my career by far, just because of what I've been through, knowing how precious time in the big leagues really is. There was no guarantees I was coming back, whether it's here or somewhere else."
Hendrickson's promotion was necessary because starter Jake Arrieta had lasted only 4 1/3 innings in Thursday's series opener and Zach Britton managed to get just two outs on Friday, leaving the bullpen exposed.
Hendrickson, 37, pitched in 105 games with the Orioles over the previous two seasons, compiling a 4.74 ERA. He re-signed with the Orioles as a minor league free agent in January, but didn't make the club out of spring training. He opted to accept his minor league assignment to Norfolk, rather than finding a job elsewhere.
He admitted that when he struggled in his first couple of outings, he considered retirement.
"I was kind of lost just because I didn't have a chance to really process everything," Hendrickson said. "It was kind of a low point for me, but I dug deep, relied on my family and worked through it, and I've been pleased with how things have been."
Buck Showalter was Derek Jeter's first big league manager with the New York Yankees, and he fondly remembers the star shortstop's first Major League hit. That memory came rushing back to him Saturday, when Showalter learned Jeter had achieved his milestone 3,000th hit off the Tampa Bay Rays' David Price. That was part of a 5-for-5 day for Jeter, which included driving in the winning run with an eighth-inning single.
"Wow, that's special isn't it?" Showalter said. "It doesn't surprise me. Anything that he does doesn't surprise me. It's just typical. Derek's always been able to rise to the moment. To see his mom and dad there, that was cool. I'm glad I wasn't there on the other team. I've said it all year when people asked me about him. You just never underestimate his heart. The thing that I'm most proud of and I think everybody in baseball who has come in contact with Derek is the whole persona of him off the field and on the field, this guy has never embarrassed the Yankees or baseball, and you love to see good things come to people who deserve it."
Around the horn
Reliever Brad Bergesen, who was knocked out of Friday's game after getting hit in the right forearm by an Ortiz comebacker, had X-rays come back clean. He said he felt some soreness, but he threw before the game and pronounced himself available for one of the Orioles' final two games before the All-Star break. Ortiz, by the way, called Bergesen to see if he was OK … Second baseman Brian Roberts (concussion symptoms) played long toss, took flips and did some conditioning work Saturday. He has an appointment next week with concussion specialist Dr. Michael Collins to see if he can increase his baseball activity. … Infielder Cesar Izturis (elbow surgery) resumed baseball activities a couple of days after having oral surgery. … According to Elias, Britton is only the third Orioles starting pitcher to allow at least eight runs while not making it out of the first inning since the team moved to Baltimore in 1954. The other two were Hayden Penn (Sept. 23, 2006 against Oakland), and Victor Zambrano (Sept. 26, 2007 against Toronto).