Biggio: If you crowd the plate, expect to get hit
Major League Baseball's modern career leader in HBP never charged the mound
ANAHEIM -- Craig Biggio never felt the need to charge the mound after any of the 285 times he was hit by a pitch in his 20-year career, though there were a few times Biggio thought he was being struck intentionally. He trusted his teammates would help him handle the situation, and they usually did.
Biggio was asleep when San Diego's Carlos Quentin was hit by a pitch and charged the mound Thursday night to attack Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke, breaking the pitcher's collarbone in the process, but it was a hot topic at Friday afternoon's baseball practice at Houston's St. Thomas High School, where Biggio is the head coach.
For Biggio, who was an Astros fan favorite for two decades because of his hard-nosed style of play, there's a right way to handle getting hit by a pitch, and charging the mound was never the answer.
"When you watch the game, you know what needs to be done and the time it needs to be done," said Biggio, who was hit by more pitches than anyone in baseball's modern era. "I don't know what happened last night as far as what their past was, but if you stand close to the plate, you're going to get hit, so don't complain about it."
Biggio admittedly stood close to the plate during his career, and in later years wore protective padding on his left arm and elbow to help soften the repeated blows he took. If getting hit by a pitch got him to first base, mission accomplished.
"I never did charge the mound," Biggio said. "I always felt that if I got hit on purpose, my pitcher was going to stick up for me and there was no reason to go out and charge the mound. An eye for an eye. That's how you get the respect from your teammates. From the standpoint of a hitter, I didn't move. I didn't stand on top of the plate, but I knew if guys came in, I was going to get hit. That's part of the game."
Biggio did say he might have charged the mound if he felt someone was deliberately throwing at his head.
"I probably would have," he said. "During the heat of battle, things happen and people get hit, and if you get hit on purpose, you're at fault, too."
Biggio recalled a game in the Astrodome on May 19, 1995, against Montreal. Expos starter Pedro Martinez hit Luis Gonzalez with a pitch in the third inning, and Biggio and teammate Jeff Bagwell pleaded with Astros starter Darryl Kile not to retaliate until later in the game.
Kile had been scuffling that season, and with the Astros leading, 3-1, after three innings, Biggio wanted Kile to pitch at least five innings to get a much-needed win. If Kile wanted to retaliate in the sixth, so be it.
"He went out and, on the first pitch [in the fourth], drilled a guy in the middle of the back and walked off the field of the Astrodome and went into the clubhouse," Biggio said. "When the inning was over, Baggy and I sprinted into the clubhouse and we said to him, 'You're an idiot for doing that, but we love you. We'll do anything for you.'
"That goes back to my point: If you watch the game, you know what you need to do when it's time to do it."