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MLB investigating Fielder incident

MLB investigating Fielder incident

LOS ANGELES -- Major League Baseball was investigating the on- and off-field incidents at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday night involving Los Angeles reliever Guillermo Mota and Milwaukee first baseman Prince Fielder and planned to formally render its ruling on Thursday, an MLB spokesperson told the Brewers.

Mota's inside pitch and Fielder's postgame actions had Chavez Ravine buzzing while the teams prepared for their season series finale on Wednesday. Fielder, who tried to storm into the Dodgers clubhouse after Tuesday's game, wouldn't talk to reporters, but Mota did, insisting the pitch that struck Fielder in the leg was an accident.

"I was thinking we were good friends," Mota said. "We played together last year."

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That friendship was strained Tuesday night, when Mota plunked Fielder with two outs in the ninth inning and the Dodgers ahead by 13 runs. Mota was immediately ejected while Fielder stood at home plate with a puzzled look on his face.

When Brewers pinch-hitter Mike Rivera followed with a game-ending flyout, Fielder hustled down the dugout steps and continued toward the door to the Dodgers clubhouse. His bleep-filled tirade was caught by a television cameraman who happened to be waiting at the door. Jason Kendall, Mike Cameron and Ryan Braun were among those accompanying Fielder, appearing to be on hand to keep matters from escalating.

On Wednesday, the Dodgers had extra security personnel at the door of the visitor's clubhouse.

Inside, Brewers manager Ken Macha offered his side of the story during an hour-long telephone conversation earlier in the day with MLB vice president of on-field operations Bob Watson and vice president of umpiring Mike Port.

Macha also spoke with Fielder, and so did general manager Doug Melvin, who was at Tuesday's game, but returned to Milwaukee on Wednesday morning.

"I'm confident [Watson] will make the right decision," Melvin said. "Prince did not go into the clubhouse. He did not really shove anybody. Once he got to the door, it looked to me like he had control over his emotions. It's unfortunate, but it's hard for us to all say, if we had balls thrown at our bodies, how we would react.

"It's not something we condone. But I get tired of our players getting thrown at, too."

Melvin was particularly irked by the comments of Dodgers catcher Russell Martin, the only player to admit that Mota struck Fielder as retaliation for Brewers reliever Chris Smith plunking Manny Ramirez in the seventh inning.

Ramirez was out of L.A.'s starting lineup for Wednesday's finale.

"No Manny?" Macha said facetiously. "Shocked."

Macha called Fielder's actions "regrettable" and "inappropriate," but otherwise defended the slugger. The manager mostly was upset about Wednesday's television coverage of the issue.

"It's been misrepresented," Macha said. "They want to use words that make it seem like somebody was going to kill somebody else. ... You're focused on the wrong thing. If their pitcher doesn't intentionally hit him, none of this happens. That's what I mean by the representation; they are portraying Prince as the bad guy. He's not the bad guy.

"So let's get the focus proper, OK? It's 17-4, and [throwing at a batter] is a totally inappropriate action. You pitch inside for two reasons. No. 1, to get the outside part of the plate. No. 2, to injure someone. Our guy [Smith] was trying to get the outside part of the plate. Their guy [Mota] was trying to injure someone. So let's try and get that out there."

Smith unhappily found himself at the center of the storm. He is a former Red Sox teammate of Ramirez, and denied he was trying to hit the Dodgers slugger.

"No ifs, ands or buts about it," Smith said. "A fastball got away from me. I don't even think it really hit him. It clipped his jersey. It was totally unintentional. I did not mean to do that at all.

"I'm just trying to hide and not be heard of," Smith said. "I just want to come out, do my job and leave. I never want to make a lot of noise and commotion. I feel bad that it got away. That's the last thing I want to do is put guys on. I'm in no position to be doing anything but get outs."

Meanwhile, across the diamond, video of Tuesday's incident twice played on the two televisions in the Dodgers clubhouse. Each time the Fielder clip was shown, players watched with a certain bemusement.

The first time the footage aired, one Dodgers player jokingly asked Mota where he was when everything transpired.

Mota quipped that that he was "waiting for [Fielder] in the weight room." Mota then, for the first time, addressed reporters.

"I was surprised," Mota said, "because when I came out of the gym they told me, 'Hey, he was here with his whole team.' I said, 'What?' ... Why did he do that?"

Mota said he was just trying to pitch Fielder inside.

  "I have to pitch inside and if somebody gets hit because I was pitching inside, it's baseball," Mota said.

  When Dodgers manager Joe Torre spoke with reporters before Wednesday's game, he tried to downplay what happened and eventually asked reporters to move to a different topic.

"There's a lot of passion in this game and a lot of things that go in this game," Torre said. "I'm a little surprised and disappointed that this is taking all the attention. This is baseball and people get hit."

Both Fielder and Mota have been at the center of controversy before. Mota tangled with the Mets' Mike Piazza in 2002 and 2003. After the '03 incident, Piazza stormed into the Dodgers clubhouse looking for Mota. Both players were suspended.

Fielder has been suspended once in his career, after an August 2007 run-in with umpire Wally Bell in Houston. The All-Star slugger's temper flared again in August 2008, when television cameras caught Fielder shoving Brewers pitcher Manny Parra in the visitors' dugout in Cincinnati during the seventh inning of a loss to the Reds.

The drama at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday night came on the one-year anniversary of Fielder's dugout scrap with Parra.

"He's an emotional guy," Melvin said of Fielder. "I think he'll put this behind him and go out and play the game."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. David Ely is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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