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Those weren't kisses Dodger Vicente Padilla was throwing to Marlon Byrd

July 12, 2010 |  7:13 am
Nothing like a little baseball love to send you into the break.

Or did you miss that I-love-you-too pitch that Vicente Padilla introduced to Marlon Byrd’s back in the seventh inning?

Or the response from rookie Andrew Cashner, currently the most popular Cubbie in the Chicago clubhouse, who hit Blake DeWitt in the thigh in the eighth?

Old-school, hard-nosed baseball, served with a touch of personal history.

Padilla was picked up by the Dodgers last season after being released by the Rangers, who among other things, were fed up with his head-hunting. Which as DeWitt can tell you, usually leads to retaliation.

When Padilla was released, several Rangers did not conceal their joy. And Byrd, then his Texas teammate, wasn’t shy about it.

"About time," said Byrd. "It's absolutely a positive for this team. We have to get rid of the negatives to make a positive, and I believe this is a huge positive for this team."

Added Byrd: "You have to be a good teammate. You have to help teach younger guys the right things. He wasn't a positive influence on the young guys. You started questioning his character and about how much he cared."

All a prelude to Sunday in the seventh inning. The Dodgers were leading 7-0, when Ryan Theriot doubled for only the Cubs’ second hit.

Which brought up Byrd, Padilla’s old buddy. Byrd,  who happened to be seven for nine against the Dodgers in the first two games of the series. Byrd, who was promptly hit in the back.

Byrd walked slowly to first, eying Padilla.

"When a guy is throwing a two-hit shutout and he’s pinpoint all day long, and you get hit with a four-seamer, you have to question it sometimes," Byrd said. "That’s why I looked at him and smiled."

Cubs reliever Bob Howry did not hit a Dodger in the bottom of the seventh, but when Cashner started the eighth, he hit the Dodgers’ first batter, DeWitt.

No one doubted that Cashner, who was later high-fived in the Cubs dugout, had intentionally nailed DeWitt in retaliation for Byrd.

Not plate umpire Jerry Layne, who immediately warned Cashner and both dugouts. Not Dodgers manager Joe Torre or DeWitt. And apparently not Byrd.

Cashner’s "a great teammate," Byrd said. "You’ve got to love him. A rookie throwing hard, and he has pinpoint accuracy too."

DeWitt simply walked to first.

"It’s part of the game," he said. "You accept it as player and go on."

Torre was also certain the pitch was intentional.

"Yeah, I think so because a guy who doesn’t throw as hard was warming up in the bullpen, and they changed to a guy who throws hard," he said. "That’s a pretty good indication."

As for Padilla, he claimed he was unaware of Byrd’s previous disparaging remarks.

"I don’t really read the papers," Padilla said.

Padilla is also unaware there is an oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.

For now, there were just a lot of knowing smiles in the Dodgers clubhouse. Padilla has mostly been on good behavior as a Dodger. He’s hit six batters this season, one more than Clayton Kershaw.

Padilla, however, was on the disabled list and has started half as many games as Kershaw.

The Dodgers have to make sure Padilla doesn’t lapse into any old, bad habits. That can prove tough love.

-- Steve Dilbeck
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