Manager Don Mattingly watches the Dodgers play against the Diamondbacks… (Christian Petersen / Getty…)
PHOENIX -- A walk-off, 1-0 defeat to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday at Chase Field marked the end of the Dodgers' three-day break from a blood feud with the San Diego Padres.
The Dodgers will return to Dodger Stadium on Monday to face the Padres, with whom they brawled four days earlier in San Diego. The bench-clearing incident resulted in a fracture in the non-throwing shoulder of Dodgers starter Zack Greinke, who underwent surgery and is expected to be out for eight weeks.
The player who injured Greinke, Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin, won't play in the three-game series; he dropped his appeal and agreed to start serving his eight-game suspension Sunday.
Manager Don Mattingly and his players tried to downplay the showdown, maintaining there would be no acts of retaliation Monday, which will be Jackie Robinson Day. However, Mattingly hinted that they could seek retribution later in the season.
Asked if he expected the Dodgers to level the score down the road, Mattingly replied, "We'll just play baseball. We'll see how the games go. You'll see."
"No, I mean, you can make decisions then," Mattingly said. "I'm not going to sit here and talk hypotheticals like, 'Yeah, we're going to get him back.' That's not something you would talk about even if that was part of the deal. You never talk about that.
"We're trying to win games and trying to win a pennant. Getting retaliation on something is different than protecting your guys."
Mattingly explained that within a particular game, pitchers have obligations to protect their hitters. So if a pitcher is plunking hitters or throwing dangerously close to them, the opposing pitcher has to do the same in order to discourage that from continuing. This is as much about strategy as it is about vengeance.
But Mattingly was reminded that in baseball, revenge is often exacted over several months. Asked to explain the purpose of such retaliatory acts, Mattingly admitted, "I'm not quite sure."
Is it stupid to get retribution several months later?
"It seems silly sometimes," Mattingly said.
But Mattingly said players have long memories.
"Guys aren't going to forget," Mattingly said. "You can do whatever, you can say whatever, you can write whatever, guys aren't going to forget."
Told of a recent Times opinion piece by a non-baseball writer that called into question the sport's vindictive culture, Mattingly responded, "Whatever. I don't want to even keep talking about it. You're talking about some guy that never played the game, wasn't part of the game. He's going to write his opinion, that's fine. He can write whatever he wants. What's been going on in baseball has been going on a long time. You can write that it's stupid, you can write whatever."
If the Dodgers intend to retaliate, there are reasons for them to wait until later in the season, starting with the fact that Quentin won't be in the Padres' lineup.
"Our problem is with one guy, not with their team," catcher A.J. Ellis said.
Furthermore, Mattingly expects the umpires to officially warn both teams before the start of the game.
Under such circumstances, any pitcher believed to be throwing at a hitter would be immediately ejected and subject to a suspension. With Greinke already down, the Dodgers can't afford to have one of their starting pitchers suspended.
"We'll probably talk about it," Mattingly said.
Pitching for the Dodgers on Monday will be Chad Billingsley, who said he has no intention of throwing at anyone.
"I'm not going out there headhunting tomorrow," Billingsley said. "I'm going out there to pitch and win a ballgame. That's what we're supposed to do. That's what we're here for, to win baseball games, make the playoffs, win the division. That's why I go out there every fifth day."
Billingsley was widely criticized for failing to protect the Dodgers hitters when Brett Myers of the Philadelphia Phillies was throwing at them in the 2008 National League Championship Series.
"That whole series is in the past," Billingsley said. "That's five years ago and you're still bringing it up. This is nothing similar to the past. That was playoffs. This is regular season."