Piazza charges mound after being hit by pitch
March 12, 2003
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) -- New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza started a bench-clearing brawl Wednesday night when he charged the mound after being hit by a pitch from Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Guillermo Mota.
Piazza and Mota had a shoving match last year in spring training after the pitcher hit Piazza in the hip with a pitch. He waited until Mota was coming off the field in the eighth inning and grabbed him by the jersey.
This time, Mota's first pitch to Piazza in the sixth inning was inside, and his second hit Piazza in the back of the shoulder.
Piazza immediately charged the mound with his right fist cocked for a punch, and Mota threw his glove at him and began backpedaling away.
Both benches emptied, with Mets outfielder Jeromy Burnitz chasing Mota after Piazza was restrained on the mound by two Dodgers. Mota made it to the dugout without begin caught.
An irate Piazza, red-faced and glaring with rage, yelled at Mota while being restrained by coaches and umpires. Twice he tried to charge the first-base dugout, but was held back both times.
Both Mota and Piazza were ejected. No punches appeared to land during the fight. The Dodgers beat the Mets 13-6 in a split-squad game.
Piazza left the ballpark while the game was still going without speaking to reporters.
Mota also left the stadium during the game and did not comment. The pitcher hit a three-run homer in the top of the sixth off Mets closer Armando Benitez.
Mota was once a shortstop in the Mets organization.
The Mets and Dodgers are scheduled to play two exhibition games against each other this weekend in Mexico City. They play once more in Florida during spring training, on March 25.