Mientkiewicz reunites with Big Unit
Pirates infielder curious about Johnson's first pitch location
PHOENIX -- First off, Doug Mientkiewicz wanted to be in the lineup on Wednesday. To that, manager John Russell obliged.
After that, he was simply curious as to where Arizona's Randy Johnson was going to throw that first pitch. It was a strike on the inside corner, though it came after Johnson waited for Mientkiewicz to step into the batter's box so that he could step off the pitching rubber. Mientkiewicz grounded out his first time up.
Evidently, that June 9 game is not lost from memory.
"Hopefully we turn the page, but the ball's not in my hands," Mientkiewicz had said before the game. "I'm going out to try and win a baseball game and not worry too much about the rest of the stuff. But like I said, the ball's not in my hand."
Neither Johnson nor Mientkiewicz, have forgotten what happened last time they met. In the June 9 contest between the D-backs and Pirates at PNC Park, the two went nose-to-nose after Johnson took exception to Mientkiewicz's actions in the batter's box. Both dugouts and bullpens completely cleared.
The incident happened in the third inning of an eventual 5-3 Pittsburgh win. Mientkiewicz called time and stepped out of the batter's box just as Johnson was beginning his windup. That set off the 6-foot-10 Johnson.
The right-hander stepped off the mound and started toward home plate as words were exchanged. No punches were thrown. But Johnson looked to be thrown off kilter, as he eventually walked Mientkiewicz, made a throwing error and walked in a run during the inning.
However, after the game, Johnson still played off the incident.
"It didn't bother me at all," he said. "If it would've, he'd [Mientkiewicz] probably be on a stretcher, and I'd be out of the game."
The following day Mientkiewicz jawed back.
"I've been on a stretcher before, and technically he's been out of the game for three years in my mind," Mientkiewicz said, alluding to Johnson's seasons with the Yankees and his injury-plagued 2007 campaign. "That just shows me how mentally weak he is. New York beat him down, let's put it that way. He doesn't have intimidating stuff anymore, so I'm not going to stand for it."
Mientkiewicz entered Wednesday's game 2-for-4 with two walks in his career against Johnson.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.