When the Dodgers gave pitcher Zack Greinke a $147 million contract, it obviously was for his arm and not his brains.
Just how stupid is Greinke, the right-hander many were calling the Dodgers’ second ace on a team with World Series championship aspirations?
Greinke actually thought he would take on the Padres’ Carlos Quentin in a mound confrontation after hitting him with a pitch in the sixth inning, throwing down his glove and saying something to him in macho fashion as if to prove something to his new teammates?
What Greinke proved was that his left collarbone couldn’t hold up to an angry, charging hit batter. The collarbone was broken. Greinke is out for at least six weeks. And the Dodgers are out an expensive starting pitcher at the start of a season when they need pitching most.
Oh, the Dodgers won the game, 3-2, but what a pyrrhic victory this was. The Dodgers wound up the real losers and on the short end of a bench-clearing brawl that at one point even had Dodger hitting coach Mark McGwire flat on his rear.
The damage so far?
Greinke is out for a while, playing “Rocky” perhaps in his mind or on the disabled list, and could well miss up to eight starts, possibly more.
Matt Kemp, who was out in centerfield when the fight began, was kicked out of the game, apparently for arguing with the umpires, apparently over learning just how hurt Greinke was.
Kemp, though, not only got himself ejected but also likely faces a suspension, not that his slumping bat is going to be missed. But it will set him back on trying to get his swing back into the groove of 2011 and early last year.
Dodger reserve infielder Jerry Hairston Jr. was also ejected after charging out of his dugout toward the Padres dugout pointing and having to be restrained, all after the initial brawl but after learning that Greinke was coming out of the game because he was injured.
In the immediate aftermath of the game, no one was exactly sure why the hit-batsman incident exploded into a fight whose damage hurts a pennant contender like the Dodgers much worse the lowly Padres.
Quentin, who has a penchant for getting hit, was also booted from the game and faces a suspension, though it is likely to be for only a handful of games, if that much, while Greinke is obviously out for much longer.
Dodger manager Don Mattingly was understandably furious, telling reporters after the game that Quentin should be hit with a longer suspension.
“He should not play a game before Greinke can pitch,” he said. “If he plays a game before Greinke pitches, something is wrong.”
Apparently Greinke and Quentin have a history dating back to when both played in the American League – when Greinke evidently hit Quentin on three occasions.
After the game, though, Greinke denied that had intentionally thrown at Quentin.
“I never thought about hitting him on purpose,” Greinke said. “He always seems to think that I’m hitting him on purpose, but that’s not the case. That’s all I have to say about it.”
Greinke had his arm and shoulder immobilized with a sling and will be evaluated by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles on Friday.
Had Quentin said anything to Greinke during their collision which is when the Dodger pitcher believes he broke his collarbone?
“I’m not really talking about this,” Greinke told reporters. “I’ve said what I’m going to say to you guys, and that’s all. I’m not really getting into details with it.”
After the game, Kemp and Quentin also got into a heated arguement in a corridor at Petco Park where they had to be separated by teammates and security.
"I'm asking Greinke if he's OK and he said his shoulder's messed up," Kemp, later told the Associated Press. "That kind of took me over the edge right there.
"I think Carlos Quentin went to Stanford, something like that? I heard there's smart people at Stanford. That wasn't too smart. Greinke didn't do anything wrong. That stuff happens in the minor leagues. It doesn't happen in the big leagues."
And it’s not like the incident will be quickly forgotten. The Padres will be at Dodger Stadium Monday for a series that suddenly has taken on new interest.
Sadly for Greinke, who was leading when he left, he didn’t even get the win in the last game he’ll pitch for a while.
The Padres tied the game in that sixth inning with Alexi Amarista, the pinch runner for Quentin, taking second base on reliever Chris Capuano’s wild pitch and scoring on Yonder Alonso’s single to center.
The Dodgers recaptured the lead in the eighth when pinch hitter Juan Uribe homered to left field.
Uribe had hit for Matt Guerrier who had entered the game to throw one pitch and retired the Padres in the bottom of the seventh inning – and wound up being the winning pitcher.
Greinke, making his second start of the season, was staked to a two-run lead in the first inning when Adrian Gonzalez crushed a low inside curveball into the right field stands with Carl Crawford on base.
But the Dodger offense was stagnant the rest of the way until Uribe’s solo homer. The Dodgers left 18 runners on base, just part of a bizarre night.
Unfortunately, it was all upstaged by Greinke hitting Quentin who, after being hit by the pitch, took several steps toward the mound with bat in hand before dropping it and charging Greinke.
Greinke himself squared off, as if challenging Quentin to do something and then took Quentin’s charge with a lowered left shoulder.
“It’s awful,” said Greinke. “It’s silly that something could happen like that.”
And the fight? Was that really what Greinke wanted to do? What was it Crash Davis says to Ebby Calvin Laloosh in “Bull Durham” -- “Show us that million-dollar arm, 'cause I got a good idea about that five-cent head of yours”?
Did Greinke, the new kid in Tinsel Town, think he was in some make-believe Hollywood flick with fake blood and stunt men taking the blows?
“I don’t remember the last time I wanted to get in a fight with someone,” the damaged goods Greinke said after the game. “But now, I guess.”