This won’t be a prizefight between Matt Garza and Johnny Cueto, who’s on the disabled list with a strained right shoulder. The Cubs and Cincinnati Reds won’t follow hockey’s code of justice either.
But Garza’s wild-card personality will again be part of the storyline on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field, where he will face the Reds for the first time since sending Cueto a “grow the hell up” message through the media.
That prompted Reds manager Dusty Baker to challenge Garza to say it to Cueto’s face, telling reporters last month he’d love to see the two players settle it like hockey enforcers: “Let them fight - somebody hits the ground and then it’ll be over with."
Baker, the ex-Cubs manager, is trying to use his connections inside the Blackhawks organization to get tickets to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday night at the United Center. But he doesn’t expect his team to get nasty and physical like the Boston Bruins.
“It’s up to him,” Baker said Monday. “He’s the one that said it. I don’t have anything to say. As far as I’m concerned, it’s over. I think Johnny got fined for it. We just play ball. And then whoever wants to do something, it’s their prerogative.”
Baker doesn’t have any sort of history with Garza, who called Cueto’s move “kind of B.S.” and “totally immature” on May 26. Cueto did get fined, but not ejected, for throwing a pitch over the head of David DeJesus, who apparently took too much time stepping out of the batter’s box. The Cubs said that helped fuel a comeback win at Great American Ball Park.
“I don’t even know Garza,” Baker said. “Never spoke to him in my life.”
[RELATED: Cubs respond to Dusty Baker]
Staying in character, Cubs manager Dale Sveum downplayed the Garza-Cueto feud and quickly dismissed the idea there could be some carryover into Tuesday night.
“There was nothing to that whole situation,” Sveum said.
Stay tuned to see if there are any fireworks after Garza’s tough-guy talk.
“Cueto should learn you don’t go after guys’ heads,” Garza said that day. “If he has something to say about it, he knows where to find my locker and definitely I’ll find his.”