Because 26 days before Opening Day is apparently early enough to reignite the Nationals/Phillies rivalry, there were some spring training shenanigans during the teams' exhibition game Tuesday in Clearwater, Fla.
(H/T Dan Steinberg)
During the third inning, Stephen Strasburg -- by his own admission, at least -- had trouble gripping a fastball and plunked Chase Utley in the ankle.
"I don't have any reason to throw at him, do I?" Strasburg told reporters. "I mean, I don't understand why they would think I was throwing at him. It's spring training. If you're going to throw at someone or send a message in spring training, go ahead."
So when Roy Halladay took the mound in the following inning, he threw a fastball of his own behind Tyler Moore. After the game, Halladay was coy regarding his intentions.
"Yeah, that one slipped a little bit,” a smiling Halladay told reporters.
"Really, I think, we do need to protect our guys to an extent," he continued. "I’m not saying that’s what happened. It slipped. But that’s important. We’ve had a lot of guys hit over the years. As a staff, we need to do a good job of protecting those guys. Spring training, you’re not necessarily trying to do it. But it wouldn’t have been the worst thing had it got him after hitting one of our good guys.”
Nationals manager Davey Johnson was later asked about Moore's reaction to the pitch.
"I asked Moore if there’s a history there," Johnson said. "He said, ‘There is now.’ I wouldn’t want Moore coming after me, I know that.”
Before he left, though, Johnson threw in a subtle, yet joking jab.
“Maybe Hamels is coaching him," he said. “Phillies had a great run. It’s nice now that they’re thinking about us. It’s been a while. Talk is cheap. I don’t get too involved in all that. It’s gonna happen on the field. It’s a new season."
It's been brought.
Memorial Day weekend, by the way, is the first Nationals/Phillies series of the season.
Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.