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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Failure to fire back irks Wiggy
Ty Wigginton speaks up when the Rays don't retaliate for his own plunking.
By MARC TOPKIN
Published March 13, 2007
ST. PETERSBURG - Getting hit by a pitch, even in spring training, is part of the game. So is retaliating to defend your teammates, and Ty Wigginton wanted to make sure his Devil Rays teammates, many of whom are young and new the majors, knew that, too, and he delivered the lesson Monday in unusual and emphatic fashion.
As he ran to first after being hit, Wigginton gestured and yelled into the Rays dugout, "We can get one of them too, boys," then, according to teammates, got further upset when the Rays didn't immediately respond.
"Stuff happens throughout the year ... you see guys getting hit back and forth and it's part of the game. It's been that way for years," Wigginton said.
"I think it's respect in the game of baseball and standing up for your teammates. I'm not going to come straight out and tell a pitcher to hurt somebody; you never want to see anybody get hurt on the baseball field for either team. You just want to play the game right."
Manager Joe Maddon said Wigginton, one of the Rays' most intense and professional players, was justified in being angry.
"Anything that Wiggy does, I'm okay with," Maddon said. "He was upset and he had every right to be upset. ... I have the utmost respect for that man."
Wigginton was hit in the third inning and the Rays didn't retaliate until the sixth, when Stephen Andrade, who replaced Gary Glover on the mound, plunked Gary Sheffield, though Sheffield said it was a breaking ball and appeared unintentional.
Did Wigginton want to see his teammates strike back sooner, or more forcefully?
"Um, no comment, I guess," he said. "I'm not going to comment."
Wigginton spoke somewhat cryptically, but in essence he was talking about baseball's version of an eye for an eye: When a player is intentionally hit by a pitch, his team responds by hitting a player back, and doing so properly.
It is a lesson that young players might need reinforced, and Maddon said it will be addressed in today's routine team meeting.
"We're going to talk about everything today," Maddon said.
Wigginton was hit in the left leg by Jeremy Bonderman in the third, which actually appeared to be retaliation for Al Reyes hitting Detroit's Placido Polanco in the top half right after Pudge Rodriguez homered.
Reyes, a veteran of 11 seasons, said it was unintentional, that the ball "ran in." Polanco wasn't as sure: "Put it like this - Pudge hits a home run, the next guy gets drilled. It doesn't look good."
A warning was issued after Wigginton was hit. Glover, a nonroster and longshot candidate for a job, pitched the fourth and the fifth, though with two outs he did throw several pitches inside to Polanco. Andrade, another nonroster candidate, hit Sheffield to start the sixth.
Wigginton - who missed a month last season when he was hit by a pitch from the Yankees' Shawn Chacon, after which there was no retaliation - praised the Tigers for how they took care of business.
"I've got no problem with how it went down," he said. "Getting hit is part of the game. They hit me the right way. They hit me below the waist. It was good, clean baseball. It was the way it's supposed to be played. I have a lot of respect for Bonderman. I have a lot of respect for the Tigers and the way they play the game. ... Maybe they felt Polanco was hit. That's fine. They did what they had to do."
It seems Wigginton wants to make sure that the next time, the Rays do what they have to do.
What: Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame induction dinner and ceremony.
Who: Fred McGriff and Dale Murphy.
When: Tonight, reception at 5:45; dinner at 7:15, ceremony to follow.
Where: Tropicana Field.
What else: Ribbon cutting of the expanded museum, viewing of ball Babe Ruth signed for Williams, autographs from former players, entertainment.
Guests: Wade Boggs, Reggie Jackson, Ferguson Jenkins, Jonathan Papelbon, Johnny Pesky, Mariano Rivera.
Tickets: Limited number available, $99. Call (727) 825-3348.