Patience, Please, Padilla Will Get His

April 20, 2010, 12:19 am
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April 19, 2010

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The Vicente PadillaAaron Rowand issue has Giants fans awfully fired up, and understandably so.

The rivalry between the Dodgers and Giants is fueled by the respective fans bases, and it seems fairly clear that Giants fans are a little more passionate than their front-running, late-arriving, early leaving counterparts.

So when one of the Giants takes a fastball off the face from a Dodgers pitcher with a reputed disregard for the health of his opponents, Giants fans justifiably want to get a compensatory pound of blue flesh.

Preferably black and blue. As in someone needs to go down, and go down hard.

And someone does. As I noted in my Monday in Bay Ball piece, Im fairly certain that Padilla wasnt throwing at Rowand in that situation. But given Padillas reputation, any time he drills someone a red flag goes up.

Dont think the Giants werent seeing red, too. But dont jump to the misguided conclusion that because they didnt immediately retaliate -- by giving Padilla a taste of his own evil medicine, or by having Tim Lincecum return serve the following day by drilling a Dodger whose offensive impact is commensurate with that of Rowand -- that Bruce Bochy or Dave Righetti or Lincecum or Barry Zito or any of the pitchers who took the mound over the weekend after the incident in question is soft or weak or scared.

What they are, as a group, is smart. For they werent just seeing red. They were seeing the big picture. Thats their history.

Case in point: Prince Fielder. Granted, they didnt have any more chances last year to give the big fella a shot to the ribs after his bowling-pin homer celebration in Milwaukee, but they didnt forget it over the offseason.

They deposited it in the Bank of Payback and made their withdrawal -- two, actually -- when it wouldnt impact anything but Fielders ample backside.

Plunking Padilla when he came to the plate after the incident Friday would have been too obvious, meriting automatic ejections for Waldis Joaquin -- whom the Giants needed to eat a couple of innings -- and Bochy; inexplicably, the umps didnt issue a warning when Rowand was drilled in the grill, but they dont have to give one before they toss someone in retaliation situations.

Lincecum lighting someone up during a 9-0 rout would have been obvious, too, and the last thing the Giants need is their ace risking a suspension.

Zito? Not in that kind of game, where every baserunner represented the tying or go-ahead run.

So the Giants again are taking the path of patience with this one, too. They dont face the again Dodgers for 69 days, and by then things will have blown over a bit. They might even wait until their third or fourth series of the year against their rivals to dish out some retribution.

But make no mistake. This is not over. Nor is the Casey Blake situation. Trust me on this.

In fact, dont be surprised if the Giants kill two birds with one stone. Blake is to the Dodgers essentially what Rowand is to the orange and black -- a gritty, hard-nosed player with moderate pop.

Saturday, July 31, AT&T Park. Blake gets thumped in the thigh in his first at-bat, blitzed in the back in at-bat No. 2. The second HBP brings a warning, the Dodgers cant retaliate without losing their pitchers and manager, and the home crowd goes wild.

Relax, the Giants arent letting anyone walk all over them. Theyre chillin in the weeds before striking when the prey least suspects it. Wouldnt you rather watch it unfold in your own backyard?

--Mychael Urban