So, the Rockies are headhunters now?

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In the fifth inning of Thursday’s game between the Rockies and Cardinals, a struggling Carlos Martinez drilled D.J. LeMahieu in the hip with his 95th pitch of the game. It looked like a purpose pitch, though nothing leading up to it had suggested anyone would want to be throwing at anyone. Whether it was intentional or not, Martinez’s immaturity showed when he walked off the mound and jawed with LeMahieu afterwards. Worse, after escaping the inning, Martinez directed an obscene gesture towards the Rockies dugout.

Fast forward two innings. Rockies reliever Christian Friedrich, in his first inning of work, got the first two batters he faced. He then sent his first pitch to Kolten Wong not only in his direction, but up near his head:

source:

Fortunately, no real harm was done. Wong took the pitch off his shoulder and walked to first without incident. The incredible thing is that Friedrich was allowed to continue pitching, even though warnings appeared to be issued after the earlier incident.

Regardless, herein lies the stupidity of beanball wars. Whether Friedrich intended to go up there or put one in his ribcage, the end result could have ended Wong’s season or worse. He deserves a lengthy suspension, and manager Walt Weiss should also be banned from the dugout for a spell. It’s 2015. There’s  no longer any place for these purposely dangerous acts in baseball, and it shouldn’t take a career being ended for MLB to do something about it.

Astros block Detroit Free Press from clubhouse at Justin Verlander’s request

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Last night a BBWAA-credentialed reporter from the Detroit Free Press was barred from the Houston Astros’ clubhouse by team security following the Tigers win over the Astros. The reporter — who was almost certainly Anthony Fenech, who covers the Tigers — was kept out at the request of Astros starter Justin Verlander. Here’s the scene as described by the Free Press. The article contains a photo, taken by Fenech, of the three Astros officials who blocked the door to prevent him access:

At 9:35 p.m., the Astros opened their clubhouse to credentialed media in coordination with MLB rules. As other media members entered the clubhouse, the Free Press reporter with a valid BBWAA-issued credential was blocked from entering by three Astros security officials . . . The reporter contacted Mike Teevan, MLB vice president of communications, who said he would immediately reach out to Dias regarding the issue. Dias eventually gave the reporter access to the clubhouse at 9:41 p.m., after Verlander’s media session had ended . . . Once inside, the reporter approached Verlander, who said: “I’m not answering your questions.” When asked to comment on Wednesday’s loss, Verlander walked away.

That after-the-fact access for the reporter came only after he called Major League Baseball who, in turn, called Astros officials, presumably, to tell them that they cannot bar credentialed media.

It’s unclear at the moment what the beef is between Verlander and either the Free Press or the reporter. For what it’s worth, I follow Fenech and, while he’s a bit more witty and, occasionally, cutting than your average beat reporter, he’s self-effacing and doesn’t do cheap shots. Though he talks often about former Tigers and has made a point to highlight Verlander’s post-Tigers career whenever relevant, to my knowledge he hasn’t said or done anything specific to tweak Verlander in the past.

I will note, though, that last night, about eight minutes before Fenech was barred access, the Free Press Twitter account sent this tongue-in-cheek tweet out. It’s unclear if he or someone else at the paper wrote it:

Maybe that pissed off Verlander, who is known to be active on social media and is usually pretty aware of what’s being said about him. Hard to say.

What’s easy to say, though, is that no matter what has hurt Verlander’s fragile ego, the Astros barring the reporter from the clubhouse is in blatant violation of the agreement between Major League Baseball and the Baseball Writers Association of America, which ensures access for credentialed reporters. Verlander doesn’t have to talk to the guy — he doesn’t have to talk to anyone he doesn’t want to talk to — but the team honoring Verlander’s wishes to bar access is totally unacceptable and, frankly, about as low-rent as it gets from a media relations perspective.

We’ll probably hear more about this later today.