The Colorado Rockies are showing some fight so far this season, both during games and between them.
Right-handed pitchers Edgmer Escalona and Juan Nicasio scuffled during stretching exercises Thursday with fans watching at Coors Field, and needed to be separated from each other by teammates. After taking two of three games from the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park, the Rockies used a day off to have a practice that was open to the public.
Reporter Troy Renck of the Denver Post said teammates Jeff Francis and closer Rafael Betancourt were among the first to break up the fracas, which included Escalona and Nicasio "talking loudly in Spanish" presumably to (or at) each other. Escalona is from Venezuela and Nicasio is from the Dominican Republic.
Save some for the Padres, boys!
Practice soon resumed — with Escalona and Nicasio using different workout partners — and afterward the arguing players were escorted to center field to talk about what happened. Manager Walt Weiss said the argument was over "clubhouse needling," but doesn't expect it to linger, telling Renck and other reporters:
"It was physical. They went after each other. They got on each other's nerves. But it's over with," said Weiss, whose team plays its home opener Friday against the San Diego Padres. "They are actually like brothers. And brothers fight sometimes. I wish it hadn't happened in public, but they are fine."
Neither player will be disciplined, Weiss said.
An auspicious start in the standings is welcome after the Rox lost 98 games in 2012, but a fight four days into the season — and in front of a few hundred people waiting for autographs? Not as much. In the dog days of August, maybe it's a little more reasonable.
But this kind of trouble follows Escalona, who in 2011 served a suspension from his team in the Venezuela winter league for fighting with his manager. He also was suspended in 2012 for doctoring a baseball with a foreign substance during a minor league game at Triple-A. So he's kind of ornery.
Nicasio, of course, is coming back from a broken neck, and allowed two runs over six innings in his first start of the season earlier this week.
This is an early test for Weiss, who is in his first season as skipper. If this is soon forgotten, he must have done a good job with it.