Big League Stew - MLB

That memorable shockwave celebration that Prince Fielder(notes) and his Brewers teammates staged after a walkoff homer win last Sept. 6 apparently stung the Giants for six long months.

We probably won't be able to say the same for the pitch that Barry Zito(notes) hit Fielder with in retaliation during the first inning of Thursday's spring training game between the two teams in Arizona. 

As one funny beat writer tweeted, Fielder has probably "been bitten by mosquitoes harder" than the first-pitch fastball that found his beefy back. 

And while Zito may have become history's highest paid hitman with this early March vigilante job, he's not exactly known for his blazing fastball. 

Fielder calmly accepted his comeuppance by walking to first base and nothing more came of it during the game. The plunking seemed to appease the Giants, who had been angry that the Brewers ostentatious home plate party came directly after a Sunday loss that was damaging to the Giants' playoff hopes.

(Though the incident happened in the last meeting of the season between Milwaukee and San Francisco, the team hinted last fall that it wouldn't forget over the long winter.)

Fielder told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel on Thursday that he knew the retaliation was coming. But he also doesn't regret the his bowling-strike celebration one bit:

"They gotta do what they gotta do," Fielder said. "But it's not going to take (the celebration) away. It's chronicled ... That's something I did with me and my teammates. It has nothing to do with them. You're (darn) right it was worth it."

Zito was at his dopey and deflecting best in the other clubhouse, refusing to acknowledge the purpose pitch and immediately changing the subject on the next followup question.  

"We were just going fastballs in hard," Zito said. "The ball was running away. ... It's not something that was thought of for months and months."

As I wrote last September, I generally enjoyed the creativity Fielder and the Brewers employed in the celebration, but I also understood the issue the Giants took with the timing. Whatever you think of baseball's unwritten payback rules, there was never any question the Giants would come back at Fielder in some fashion. I have no problem with it. 

One more thing: This incident is getting a lot of attention because 1) of the unusual nature of Milwaukee's showboating last season and 2) the fact that it happened during spring training.

But a lot of credit should go to the Giants and Brewers for conducting their silly baseball code business in a pretty calm and rational manner. One can only think of what might have happened if the Giants had waited for Matt Cain(notes) to unleash one of those fastballs that unintentionally injured David Wright(notes) last fall.  

RELATED: Will Prince Fielder hit 50 homers this season?

For more Stew spring training coverage, follow @bigleaguestew


 

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