Orioles injured closer Zach Britton knows what Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia said publicly about reliever Matt Barnes seemingly throwing at the head of the Orioles’ Manny Machado on Sunday afternoon.
Pedroia said he had nothing to do with Barnes’ decision, even though it looked as if Barnes was retaliating against Machado for a hard slide Friday that injured Pedroia’s calf and has kept him out of action.
But Britton isn’t buying Pedroia’s statements to the media or to Machado while they were on the field in the eighth. Because he thinks Pedroia, as Boston’s unquestioned team leader, could have stopped the potential fracas with a word to manager John Farrell or to the entire pitching staff. And, obviously, Pedroia didn’t, Britton said.
“Dustin, him telling Manny, ‘Hey, that didn’t come from me’ may be even more frustrating,” Britton told BaltimoreBaseball.com. “Because he’s the leader of that clubhouse and if he can’t control his own teammates, then there’s a bigger issue over there.”
Directly after Sunday’s game, Pedroia denounced Barnes’ pitch, saying, “I had nothing to do with that. That’s not how you do that, man. I’m sorry to him and his team. If you’re going to protect guys, you do it right away. He knows that and both teams know that. Definitely a mishandled situation.”
Britton was told what Pedroia said to the media, and responded: “Good. Glad he did. But what if Manny’s on the ground with blood coming out of his ears? What is Dustin going to say then? It’s better to be proactive than reactive.”
Britton said if it were a flipped situation, and he was planning to hit a batter in retaliation for what someone did to one of his teammates, and he was told not to by a veteran Oriole, he’d listen.
“As a player that doesn’t have the most service time in this room, when a guy like Adam Jones tells me to do something or not to do something, I’m going to do (what he says). Same with Chris Davis or Darren O’Day, the guy in my bullpen,” Britton said. “If they tell me, ‘Don’t do this or that,’ I’m going to listen to them because they’ve been around the game and they’ve seen things I haven’t seen. And you respect their leadership.”
By not saying anything, Britton contends, Pedroia gave tacit approval for Barnes to retaliate – although Britton doesn’t suggest that Pedroia would have instructed Barnes to throw at anyone’s head. Regardless, it was all handled poorly, especially by Barnes, Britton said.
“It looked ugly, that’s for sure. If you want to send a message to somebody, you don’t do it by throwing at their head. I think you should have the ability to control the ball enough if you want to hit somebody. You do it in their body,” Britton said. “You’re not in the business of hurting people. If you want to send a message because you didn’t feel like Manny slid into second base the right way, then you handle it professionally. You do it. You get it over with and everyone turns the page. So, now you turn it into a situation where people feel like you’re out there trying to hurt somebody. And we know Manny’s intent wasn’t that with Dustin. I think (Dustin) knows that as well.”
So, does Britton think this issue with the Red Sox, whom the Orioles face 14 more times in 2017, including a four-game series at Fenway Park starting May 1, is over?
“That’s up to them. We’ll see what they do in Boston,” Britton said.
But isn’t it now up to the Orioles to strike back, if, indeed, the bad blood is going to continue?
“Not necessarily,” Britton said. “I think we’ve talked about it already, as a team, and we’ll see how (the Red Sox) choose to act — whether or not they choose to act professionally or unprofessionally when we get to Boston.”