LOS ANGELES — In case there were any doubts, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez confirmed, in some many words, that pitcher Tim Hudson was sending a message to Dodgers rookie Jerry Sands with that high-and-inside pitcher Monday.
He just didn’t mean for it to be so high, which is why Hudson gestured to the Dodgers dugout, to let the kid and his teammates know the pitch was not meant to be at Sands’ head (he had to duck to avoid the pitch).
First, a bit of back story for those who didn’t see the game Monday.
The Dodgers surprised many by bringing up Sands from Triple-A on Monday. The 23-year-old North Carolina native was in low-A ball a year ago at this time, and hit 35 homers in the minors last season.
The former Catawba (N.C.) College doubled in his first big-league at-bat in the three-run first inning Monday, and added a sacrifice fly to right in the third inning.
His next time up, in the sixth, Sands got buzzed by a Hudson first-pitch fastball. Hudson made what appeared to be an apologetic gesture toward the home dugout, but in the next inning Dodgers left-hander Ted Lilly threw behind Nate McLouth.
Warnings were then issued to both dugouts by home-plate umpire Laz Diaz.
Sands shrugged off the incident.
“[Hudson] signed a ball and sent it over,” he told reporters. “It was a classy move by him and I appreciate that. He said `Good debut’ and told me it got away from him a little bit. But I wasn’t looking into it at all. I watched him growing up, so that’ll definitely go in the trophy case.”
Gonzalez said he didn’t think the incidents would lead to anything more.
“That’s just old-school baseball,” Gonzalez said. “The warnings were out, I think it’s no big deal. I think the rest of the series, nothing’s going to happen. Huddy did what he had to do and Lilly did what he had to do, and that’s it. Go on and play baseball.”
Gonzalez elaborated Tuesday on what he meant by “what [Hudson] had to do.”
“You hear old guys telling stories about Bob Gibson or Sandy Koufax, where a young kid would get a base hit off of him, and the next day, don’t get too happy because you’re going to get dusted [thrown at],” Gonzalez said. “And that’s what happened yesterday. And Lilly protected his guy; he sent a message back, and that’s it. It’s over with.
“I think that’s why Don [Mattingly, Dodgers manager] never reacted, and I didn’t react.”
On Hudson’s gesture to the Dodgers dugout, Gonzalez said, “He was just saying, I apologize, I didn’t mean to get it that close to his head.”