Nixon bristles, fingers Brazelton

Published April 25, 2005

ST. PETERSBURG - Boston slugger Trot Nixon admitted he "lost it" when the Red Sox and Devil Rays cleared the benches in their beanball affair Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Field.

An early shower after a seventh-inning ejection did little to cool him down.

Yes, he was hot that Rays pitcher Lance Carter brushed back Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz. But what really got Nixon in a lather was when, Nixon claims, Rays pitcher Dewon Brazelton tried to poke him in the eyes when the teams gathered in the middle of the field.

"A certain person grabbed at my eye," Nixon said. "It made me furious. ... That's what (ticks) me off. That's why I lost it."

Nixon admitted he charged out on the field looking for Carter, but said he had no intention of going after him physically.

Brazelton said he was just trying to protect his teammate.

"He was saying, "Get away from Lance,"' Nixon said. "The ridiculous thing was, if I had wanted to be all over Lance, I would have been all over him. I'm not going to do that. That's cheap, that's stupid. I don't know what Brazelton's intentions were. I got no ill will toward anyone over there as long as we've been playing."

History indicates otherwise. Nixon has had a couple of run-ins with the Rays, though none with current members of the team.

In 2000, a month after a nasty brawl between the Rays and Red Sox featuring Pedro Martinez, Rays reliever Roberto Hernandez struck out Nixon to end a game in September and eliminate the Red Sox from postseason contention. Hernandez waved bye-bye to Nixon as Nixon left the field.

In 2002, after the Rays' Ryan Rupe hit Nomar Garciaparra and Shea Hillenbrand with pitches, Nixon's bat flew toward Rupe after a swing and a miss. Nixon said the bat slipped, but he was suspended for four games.

On Sunday, Nixon and Brazelton met near the pitcher's mound. Television replays showed Brazelton palming Nixon's head. Nixon said Brazelton's fingers moved toward his eyes.

"He just tried to stick his fingers in (my) eye," Nixon said. "I don't know what he meant to do, it doesn't matter. You don't do that. That's disrespecting the game and not playing the game right."

Brazelton said, "I'm embarrassed I got thrown out of the ballgame. Normally when you go out there it's a song and dance. ... Nobody wants to hurt anybody. That's just baseball. ... I'm an educated fellow, but that was uneducated. I really have more class than that. I was just trying to protect our pitcher."

Nixon mentioned he was further angered because he had experienced a scratched cornea in 2003, the result of horsing around with his son.

Brazelton and Nixon were among the six ejected from the game.

"Nixon and Brazelton were escalating the situation," Rick Reed, the crew chief of the umpires, said. "In fact, Nixon was asked a couple of times to leave the area. He continued to make aggressive comments. Brazelton was out of control also."

Nixon, meantime, was baffled by Brazelton's actions.

"I hear he's a pretty good kid," Nixon said, "but you start doing that kind of stuff ... the fact of the matter is, is that if I have to get my (rear end) beat I'm going to beat his (rear end). I ain't afraid of getting my (rear end) beat. But what ignited me the most was that he was grabbing at my face, my eye."