Charlie Manuel says Shane Victorino had to fight “unless he wants his teammates to call him chicken”

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Todd Zolecki of MLB.com got some good quotes about last night’s Phillies-Giants scuffle from Shane Victorino, Placido Polanco, and manager Charlie Manuel.

For starters, Manuel said that Victorino “almost has to” charge the mound when Ramon Ramirez plunked him “unless he wants his teammates to call him chicken” because “he hit Vic and then came off the mound at him … that’s the way baseball works. I’ve been playing for almost 50 years. He pretty much called him out.”

Victorino told Zolecki that he “absolutely” believes Ramirez intentionally hit him with the pitch that started it all, saying:

That’s why I took a step forward. I had no intentions of going out there and charging the mound. I just wanted to know why in that situation … he was around the plate all night and throughout that inning … obviously with two outs and I get up to the plate and the first pitch is at my back.

I just wanted to go out there and get an answer. I had no intentions of charging the mound. I did step forward. Obviously, Eli [Whiteside], I guess from looking at his reaction, thought I was going to go and he started jumping around. Obviously, Polanco came in and he tackled Polanco. I think everything escalated from there.

“I just wanted to go out there and get an answer” strikes me as a pretty hilarious explanation of Victorino’s reaction, but regardless of his initial intentions the decision to rush back into the scrum after being held back by various people, including an umpire, will almost surely get Victorino suspended by MLB. He explained that part by saying: “I just felt like Carlos [Ruiz] was in a position like I needed to go in and help him get away from everything.”

Meanwhile, Victorino saying that Eli Whiteside “tackled Polanco” didn’t sit well with Polanco, who told Zolecki: “He didn’t tackle me.” And he’s right, since Whiteside never actually got Polanco to the ground. I commented on Twitter at the time that Whiteside showed some good linebacker instincts, but on second thought he was acting more like a fullback making a lead block than a linebacker making a tackle. Either way, not bad for someone who looks like a middle-aged insurance salesman.

Victorino, Polanco, Ruiz, and Whiteside are all in the lineup for today’s game, which starts in a couple hours.

Jon Gray will start Opening Day for the Rockies

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Manager Bud Black has tabbed Jon Gray to start on Opening Day for the Rockies. That will be Monday, April 3 in Milwaukee against the Brewers in an afternoon contest.

Gray, 25, is starting Opening Day for the first time in his career. He’ll be the sixth different Rockies pitcher to start Opening Day in as many years.

The Rockies and Gray had a bit of a scare on Friday as he left his spring training start with discomfort in his left foot, but everything came up clean in an MRI. He pitched again on Wednesday with no issue.

Last season, Gray went 10-10 with a 4.61 ERA and a 185/59 K/BB ratio in 168 innings. A consensus top prospect entering each of the previous three seasons, Gray surprisingly put up better numbers at Coors Field — the most hitter-friendly park in baseball — than away.

Blake Treinen named Nationals closer

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Today Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker named Blake Treinen as his closer. Treinen has saved exactly one big league game.

There wasn’t necessarily an obvious choice, however. Last year Washington had Mark Melancon, but with him gone and GM Mike Rizzo’s failure to land a high-profile closer in the offseason, it became a contest between Treinen Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover.

Treinen posted a 2.28 ERA with 31 walks and 63 Ks in 67 innings in 2016. His big improvement last year came against lefties, who had tattooed him in the past. He pitched well this spring as well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

The Nats are our favorites to win the NL East, but we do have some questions about the pen. Blake Treinen will take the first crack at answering them.