Fighting words: Cubs respond to Dusty Baker

Fighting words: Cubs respond to Dusty Baker

May 27, 2013, 9:30 pm
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Isn’t this sort of stuff supposed to happen against the White Sox?

“Not anymore,” Alfonso Soriano said.

Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker fired back at the Cubs on Monday, telling reporters that Matt Garza should say something to Johnny Cueto’s face, and suggesting the two settle it with a fight, like they do in hockey.

“If they fight, I bet on Garza because he’s on my team,” Soriano joked. “I hope Dusty wants to bet with me. I’d bet a couple hundred on Garza.”

Otherwise, the Cubs maintained their nothing-to-see-here talking points at U.S. Cellular Field, where you usually watch the fireworks. Garza ripped Cueto as “totally immature” after Sunday’s comeback win at Great American Ball Park, sending a “grow the hell up” message through the media. 

[MORE: Garza tells Cueto to 'grow the hell up']

Cueto had thrown a pitch over the head of David DeJesus, a low-key veteran Ryan Dempster used as a reference point during spring training last year, when he was asked about the distraction-free clubhouse without Carlos Zambrano and Milton Bradley.   

“DeJesus is a real problem child,” Dempster deadpanned. “This kid's crazy.”

DeJesus said he had no personal history with Cueto, but heard the Reds pitcher didn’t like his deliberate approach in between pitches, stepping out of the batter’s box. 

“I do the same thing every at-bat, so it’s not like I’m just doing it against him,” DeJesus said. “That’s the only thing I could come up with, but I have no problem with him. I respect his game. I respect him as a player and hopefully he respects me as a player. That’s all I really care about.”  

Home-plate umpire Bob Davidson warned both teams in the sixth and the Cubs said it woke up their dugout, helping them erase a four-run deficit and earn a 5-4 victory in 10 innings. The day after, Baker said Cueto “couldn’t hit Wilt Chamberlain with that pitch.”

“I don’t think Johnny cares either,” Baker said, according to “Would (Garza) have been as upset if he got the win instead of potentially (getting) a loss? You got something to say, you go over there and tell him. Johnny ain’t running. Know what I mean? A guy can say what he wants to say, but it’s better if you go over and say it to his face.”

Baker, the ex-Cubs manager, is old-school and hates seeing opponents chatting and laughing during batting practice.

“I just wish – just put them in a room, let them box and let it be over with, know what I mean?” Baker said. “I always said this: Let it be like hockey. Let them fight, somebody hits the ground and then it’ll be over with. I’m serious about that.”

DeJesus – who didn’t want the media to blow this out of proportion (good luck) – thought Baker had the wrong idea. 

“That doesn’t prove anything,” DeJesus said. “Hopefully, it’s over with and let’s just move on because it’s not worth putting any more (gasoline on) the fire.”

[RELATED: Samardzija loves being in the middle of Cubs-Sox rivalry]

Edwin Jackson – who as a Washington National had to be restrained during last year’s bench-clearing incident after Lendy Castillo nearly hit Bryce Harper – essentially shrugged off Baker’s comments.

“If people want to handle it (that way), whatever,” Jackson said. “I just stay in this body and watch whatever transpires. As far as I’m concerned, he threw over his head. Nobody did anything. We’re trying to play baseball. We’re trying to win games. I’m sure nobody is trying to end careers on the field from a brawl.

“I just react to the situation. I’m a chill person until I need to be otherwise.”

General manager Jed Hoyer and manager Dale Sveum didn’t want to respond to Baker and feed the media beast. Soriano and Cueto are friendly because they both grew up in the same town in the Dominican Republic, though they didn’t meet until they were playing professionally.

“He tried to send a message, but he sent a good message to us, because he woke up the offense,” Soriano said. “If he wants to hit him, he’ll hit him, because he’s got good control. The most important thing for me is we got the win. I don’t care what happened. I don’t care what Garza said. I don’t care what Cueto did. We got the win.”

Will this spill over to the next time the Cubs play the Reds?

“I hope not,” Soriano said, “because this game is too good, too beautiful to think about it like: ‘We want to fight.’”

The circus could come to town June 10, when the Reds visit Wrigley Field for a four-game series. Get your popcorn ready. 

“It is what it is,” Garza said at the end of his rant. “They run their own show and we run our own show and we’ll see them again down the line.”