In yesterday’s Cubs/Giants game, Chicago Cubs pitching prospect Corey Black was battling some control issues, as he has in the past, and unfortunately one of his wild ones caught Hunter Pence the wrong way.
The result? A broken forearm, and the San Francisco Giants are without one of their stars for six to eight weeks. Here’s the play, if you missed it. It’s not graphic or anything, but you can tell right away that it was trouble:
So, that’s a bummer for Pence and the Giants, but at least it’s early in March, and he might not miss a huge chunk of the season. Of course, you could turn that argument around, if you’re a Giants fan, and say that it’s frustrating to see a star player go down at the hands of a wild pitching prospect in a meaningless Spring Training game.
Because the injury is so early in the Spring, and because Pence may not miss much of the regular season, I’m not sure there will be much in the way of transaction implications, so I won’t go too deeply into that (maybe the Red Sox send one of their outfielders over? Allen Craig? But his contract would still have to be sorted out, and it would work only if the Giants were already kinda-sorta wanting to add someone like Craig).
Instead, where my mind went immediately when this happened: are the Cubs going to face retaliation from the Giants?
On its face, it seems like a ridiculous concern, though if you were doing some Twittering in the immediate aftermath of the injury, you probably saw some angry Giants fans suggesting such things.
Obviously Black wasn’t trying to hit Pence, and he immediately felt terrible about it:
Lost for words. Hope you heal fast @hunterpence hitting someone is never a good feeling. Hurting someone is even worse.
— Corey Black (@CblackCHC) March 6, 2015
Although the batter bears the injury, I guarantee that 99% of pitchers who injure a batter with a pitch feel awful about what happened. Hopefully there are no lingering mental effects for Black, who has excellent stuff, but who must refine his command if he’s going to be a big league contributor (which could come soon).
So, if the pitch wasn’t intentional, and Black feels bad about it, what’s the concern?
Maybe there isn’t any. But you just never know with baseball, man. The old school mentality in these situations is, regardless of intent, you took out one of our stars, so we’re going to plunk one of yours. I think it’s insane and dangerous to risk hurting another player in the baseball brotherhood, but we see it again and again each year.
The Cubs and Giants play again March 30, and hopefully everything will have dissipated by then, and no pitcher decides to take matters into his own hands and plunk Anthony Rizzo or Starlin Castro. It’s just so unnecessarily dangerous.
It sucks that Pence was injured, but it happens. There’s no reason to compound that injury with any kind of retaliation.
To be sure, if the shoe were on the other foot – the pitch on the other forearm, as it were – I’d be saying the same things. If a Cubs player were intentionally thrown at? Intentionally injured? That’s a different story, perhaps. But when it’s a pure accident, you acknowledge that it’s a bummer, and you move on.