Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Benches and bullpens emptied after Chris Volstad threw behind Nyjer Morgan.
Here's a wide sampling of what was said afterward...
What was your reaction to getting hit the first time?
"We police it. It was a hard play yesterday. I understand they had to get me back a little bit. It's part of the game. I'm hard player. I'm going out there and just playing the game. I guess they took it the wrong way. He hit me the first time, so be it. But he hit two other of our guys? Alright, cool. But then he whips another one behind me, we got to go. I'm just sticking up for myself and just defending my teammates. I'm just going out there and doing what I have to do."
What did you think when he threw at you the second time?
"That was garbage. That's just bad baseball. It's only the fourth inning. If they're going to hold me on, I'm going to roll out. The circumstances were kind of out of whack, but the game was too early. It was only the fourth inning. If it happened again, I'd do it again. It's one of those things where I'm a hard-nosed player. I'm grimey. And I just wanted to go out there and try to protect myself. I didn't want to get outside the box. There's bit a little bit of controversy surrounding the kid lately. But it's just one of those things. I'm a solid, hard-nosed player. When I'm out there between the lines, I'm out there to win and I'm out there to play hard, and play hard for this organization."
Are you worried about how people might lump all the events of this week together?
"People are going to have their own opinions. I know what kind of player I am. I'm going out there balls out. I'm not going to go out there and take anything for granted. I'm going to show that I'm a hard-nosed ballplayer, and that's the way it is."
Did you think you'd get hit the second time?
"No. I thought it was over after that. Once I saw the ball go behind me, it's time to go. Once is good enough. Twice, it's time to go."
Was stealing two bases after getting hit you trying to get revenge?
"Just playing the game."
Did you sense it was building up to that?
"We thought they might throw at Nyjer. They waited til it was his second time up, third time up, I don't know what it was. We sensed it might happen. Nyjer put the bat down and went to first base. Then everything took place and they decided to throw at him again."
Do you think it was appropriate for him to steal those bases?
"You know, my feeling has always been, if you hit somebody, then you did what you set out to do. You hit him, and now if he decides to run on you, that's his business. I got no problem with that. We decide when we run. The Florida Marlins will not decide when we run. We will decide when we run. Nobody will decide when we run. I don't put restrictions on when somebody else can run. That's not in my control. But nobody's going to put the controls on me as to when our club runs. If Nyjer decides to run, he ran. That's his business. He felt that's the way I'm going to get my payback. Sometimes some guys get it in the form of going in hard at somebody at second base on a double play. I've seen that many times. But Nyjer took his revenge in the form of a stolen base. And I don't have any problem with it."
Are you concerned about Nyjer's mental state?
"I think each situation is unique. They're separate. I didn't defend Nyjer running into Anderson with the Cardinals. But last night, to me, was a situation where Nyjer made a decision that he wasn't going to be able to slide. The only chance he had was to try to dislodge the ball. He made that decision. I feel terrible that their catcher got hurt. I don't know what more I can say about that. It bothers me that their catcher got hurt. I never like to see anybody get hurt. But they made the decision to throw at Nyjer. They did. Then, the question is: Do we throw at them? I got some of my veteran players together. I said it's your ballclub. If you want somebody getting thrown at, I'll order it right now. And everybody said, 'Nah, it's over. It's over. They threw at him, and it's over.' That being the case, when they threw at him the second time, then it's not over."
Did you address your team after the game?
"I just told them I'm proud of them, the way they kept competing. We've had a couple games this year where I've pointed out that the opposition was down and they kept coming at us. They kept playing. That's why you've got to keep adding on. And we won those games, but the games were a little widespread and the next thing you know they're close. I said, that's why you've got to keep playing. You've got to add on. The Marlins added on. But we kept playing, to the point where it gets a little uncomfortable in the other dugout because you're closing the gap."
Are you concerned that Nyjer is getting a bad reputation around baseball?
"No. I'm sure that the Cardinals probably have some animosity toward Nyjer, and the Marlins will. But we'll protect Nyjer. If anybody takes some liberties and does anything, then we'll protect him. There will be no free shots, I can guarantee you that. Nobody's going to throw at our guys without somebody getting thrown at."
Could you sense it building up to that?
"We knew he might hit him one time for I guess what they thought was a dirty play yesterday. I've known Brett since college. Nobody wants to see anyone get hurt, but the consensus from is, I don't think it was a dirty play yesterday. I wouldn't say it was the cleanest play, but in baseball terms, that's been done a million times and no one's said anything. Nyjer doesn't want to hurt anyone. No one wants to hurt anyone. I guess we thought they might hit him. They hit him once, and that's fine. But to hit him twice, that was a little ... I wouldn't say that's the right way to go about things. Even to hit him once is questionable. But to hit him twice? I don't know."
Some might say stealing two bases down 11 runs is bad baseball etiquette.
"Well, they had their closer in for the eighth, so that tells you how quickly the game can change. I agree with that, though. At that time, it might not be what the baseball book says to do. We've all been taught things like that. But he scored the run right there, and in the end we're only down five runs. It's a weird situation. Obviously, he's probably doing that because he's upset they hit him. But to throw at him again for doing that is a little bit over the top, I think. The first one, if they want to do it, fine. But they also should have done it his first at-bat, not when after they're ahead 14-5. If you're going to do it, do it. Don't wait. If they would have done it first at-bat, it would've been over, nothing would have happened."
What is the feeling inside this clubhouse on Nyjer?
"He's definitely done some things over the past couple weeks that are a little questionable, I think. We've all talked. Me and Pudge have talked to him. It's not something that anyone else outside of here needs to know. We handle stuff in here. But the whole thing in Philly, whatever. He shouldn't be thought of any differently for that. I didn't see the play, but I seriously doubt he turned and threw a ball at somebody's face. People throw balls in the stands all the time. But the thing with St. Louis was out of line, and we told him that. He's still learning the game. But the St. Louis play was really the only play that, I think, is in question. The play last night was, I think, clean. Like I said, you don't want to see someone get hurt. I've known Brett for five or six years now. That's the last thing you want to see. But I'm sure he's been in worse collisions than that and hasn't gotten hurt. Nyjer's just trying to score a run on that play. He obviously has to learn a little more about the game. But you can't take away from how hard he plays. That's what he does every day. It's not like he's changed over the last week or two. That's the attitude, the way he's played ever since he's been here. That's who he is."
(Listach, who was coaching third base, immediately ran to the mound and tackled Chris Volstad as the brawl began.)
What's your intention as you go in there?
"My intention is to not let anybody get hurt. Chris did what he thought he had to do, and Nyjer did what he had to do. But I'm not going to allow it to be six guys on one, with Nyjer out there by himself. I'm going to defend him and make sure he doesn't get hurt, or anybody hurts anybody else. It's to really break up the fight, that's all."
What was your big-league debut like?
"It was great. I had such a fun time. It was a little fast for me and I was nervous. I just had to slow myself down a little bit. But I had a great time. It was just a great experience to be here."
What did you think about the brawl?
"It was exciting. But you know, that had to happen. They continued to throw at him. It happens. But it was exciting for the first night. ... My heart was racing, because I was already nervous. And then it had to happen on the first night. I was really racing."
Was it strange fighting alongside guys you just met?
"Guys in your uniform, they're your teammates and you protect them. Anything that happens, you want to go out and protect them."