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NLCS FYI

Seven fined in incident

October 14, 2008|Dylan Hernandez and Kevin Baxter | Times Staff Writers

Hiroki Kuroda and Manny Ramirez were among the seven players and coaches fined for their involvements in the bench-clearing incident that took place at Dodger Stadium on Sunday night in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series.

Also fined were Phillies players Shane Victorino and J.C. Romero, Dodgers coaches Mariano Duncan and Larry Bowa, and Phillies coach Davey Lopes.

Kuroda, who threw a pitch behind the head of Victorino to spark the incident, was fined $7,500. Ramirez and Victorino were fined $2,500 each, Romero and Duncan $1,000 each and Lopes and Bowa $500 each. No suspensions were issued.

"I think it's ridiculous," Dodgers Manager Joe Torre said. "It's just a contradiction to me. . . . They want you to play with passion but they don't want you to show it."

Kuroda smiled when asked about the penalty.

"If that's what it is, there's nothing I can do about it," Kuroda said.

Though Kuroda said the third-inning pitch that he threw at Victorino's head slipped out of his hand, it appeared to be delivered in response to pitches thrown at Ramirez and Russell Martin in Games 2 and 3.

Victorino jawed at Kuroda and Martin but didn't charge the mound, and no player rushed to the scene other than Ramirez, who had a pitch thrown at his head by Brett Myers in Game 2.

The situation escalated when Victorino grounded out to first and heard Kuroda screaming at him in Japanese. The benches cleared, Bowa and Lopes got in each other's faces, and Ramirez had to be restrained as he pointed at Myers and Romero.

"Manny's my boy," Romero said. "It was actually funny."

The view from another side

If Kuroda had done what he did Sunday night in Japan, he probably wouldn't have received the kind of widespread praise he received in the United States for standing up for his teammates, according to reporters from his country covering the NLCS.

Though throwing at hitters in retaliation is something that is accepted among Japanese players, the country's baseball establishment would never acknowledge that to the public, which perceives such practices as juvenile.

"In Japan, the concept of an eye for an eye doesn't exist," said Mamoru Shikama of Nikkan Sports News.

"Being able to withstand pain and not retaliating is a measure of strength to the Japanese," said Takashi Yamakawa of the Kyodo News. "There would be a segment of the public that would disapprove of retaliatory acts. Escalation is seen as pointless."

Shikama and Yamakawa said because of pressures from society and the media, players are less likely to retaliate -- at least in the obvious way that Kuroda did. However, Yamakawa said that over the last decade, bench-clearing brawls have become more commonplace.

"My guess is that growing influence of the major leagues in Japan has something to do with that," he said.

MVPs MIA

The Phillies are a win from the World Series despite the fact their two National League MVPs, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins, have struggled at the plate, combining to hit just .152 in the series.

Howard doesn't have an extra-base hit against the Dodgers and has driven in just one run in the series and just two in the postseason, where he's hitting .185 in eight games. And the regular season leader in home runs and RBIs, who also led all big league first baseman in errors this season, made another costly miscue that led to an unearned run in the sixth.

Rollins, who had a hit and scored a run Monday, is two for 17 in the series.

"Jimmy looks to me like his timing is off a little bit," Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel said. "He can correct that."

As for Howard, who drove in a run with a groundout and scored twice Monday, Manuel said he thinks his cleanup hitter is about to break out.

"He's more patient at the plate. Once he finds his swing, he usually keeps it for a while."

Short hops

Matt Kemp, who was hitting .208 (five for 24) through the first six games of the postseason, was out of the lineup and had his place in center field taken by Juan Pierre. Torre said Kemp would start Game 5 when the Dodgers face left-hander Cole Hamels. . . . Orel Hershiser, the 1988 World Series MVP for the Dodgers, threw the ceremonial first pitch.

--

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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