WASHINGTON—The Nationals are sorry.
There wasn’t much excuse-making or finger-pointing coming out of the home clubhouse Friday night after relief pitcher Steve Cishek hit Francisco Lindor near the face with a pitch and kicked off a benches- and bullpens-clearing incident. Twice in the first two games, a Mets star has been hit near the face. Pete Alonso was knocked down Thursday by a pitch that deflected off his shoulder and blooded his mouth.
Nationals manager Dave Martinez admitted “I’d be pissed off” if it were the other way around.
“They’re pissed off and I get that,” Martinez added. “Both times was unintentional — super-unintentional. But it did happen, so I have no ill feelings of what they did. I went out there to protect our players.”
Cishek and Nationals third base coach Gary DiSarcina were ejected. Lindor also left the game—a 7-3 win for the Mets—but X-rays and a concussion test turned up negative. The pitch was designed to go up and in because Lindor had squared around to bunt.
“It shocked me because I don’t think I’ve ever hit a lefty in the face or the head before,” Cishek said. “I put my head down and my first intention was to go over and see if he was OK. As I was doing that, I realized it was a bad idea because I just kind of fired up their bench a little bit.”
Cishek later walked into the medical room to check on the results of Lindor’s X-rays. He actually found Lindor waiting.
“I shook his hand and apologized and made sure he was OK. He said he was,” Cishek said. “I told him, ‘Sorry for what happened. Obviously your teammates have your back and I respect that.’ He was cool with it. Really nice guy.”
Cishek was ejected for his role as an aggressor in the skirmish (as was DiSarcina) and not for the pitch, umpires later confirmed.
“There was no intent,” Cishek said. “I thought I was going to have a warning for sure, but to be ejected was a bit of a surprise.”
Met third base coach Joey Cora seemed to be headed right for Cishek as the dugout emptied, with Lindor face-down in the dirt. Cishek kept hearing members of the Mets counting how many hit batsmen there have been (four) to start the season.
“I was just saying, ‘If you think I hit him on purpose, you are crazy. I didn’t do that,’” Cishek said. “Unfortunately, I was trying to defend my own integrity, but also my teammates’ integrity because a lot of things were said.
“Honestly, it wasn’t the right time to do it after hitting their best player in the face. I wish I would’ve just kept my mouth shut and worn it. … Even if it was an apology, it wasn’t needed. They just needed to support their teammate there. I understand that.”
Easier said than done.
“I see Pete Alonso — a big guy — coming out of the corner of my eye saying stuff,” Cishek said. “My first intention is to defend myself.”
Martinez said pitcher Mason Thompson apologized before the game Friday for hitting Alonso on Thursday.
“It sucks,” Martinez said. “You don’t ever want to see anybody get in the head. I don’t know what’s going on. I’ve got two [pitchers] who are pretty upset about it.”