Officials to warn Mets, Nationals

Officials to warn Mets, Nationals

NEW YORK -- Umpire supervisor Steve Palermo is expected to alert the crew working this week's Mets-Nationals series of the strained relationship that exists between the two National League teams because of a series of hit batsmen last week when the Nationals played at Shea Stadium.

The message that Palermo is to convey to the umpires -- who in turn will notify the Mets and Nationals -- is "Just play ball." Those words came on Sunday night from Bob Watson, the vice president of on-field operations for Major League Baseball, according to the Associated Press.

"We will do what's normal after a confrontation like what happened last series, and that's called a 'heads up,' " Watson said. "Steve Palermo will send out an e-mail to the crew and let them know what had taken place so they have an idea of what's going on."

Seeds that could grow into something ugly this week were planted last week, when Mets pitchers hit Nationals batters six times and the Nationals retaliated. The teams will play on Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon in Washington.

The situation came to a boil in the fifth inning on Thursday night, when Mets pitcher Pedro Martinez -- his reputation for intimidating batters already in place -- hit Jose Guillen for the second time in the game. The Nationals right fielder, who has been hit five times in 40 career plate appearances against Martinez and is a very productive hitter against the right-hander, pointed his bat at Martinez and moved toward the mound after being hit for the third time in the series.

Guillen was restrained by home plate umpire Ted Barrett and Mets catcher Paul Lo Duca. Both benches and bullpens emptied onto the field, but nothing more came of the incident until Mets catcher Paul Lo Duca was struck by a pitch thrown by reliever Felix Rodriguez in the eighth inning. Rodriguez and Nationals manager Frank Robinson were ejected.

Robinson and Rodriguez were served suspensions on Monday. Robinson was ordered to sit out one game and missed Monday's game at Houston. Rodriguez planned to appeal a three-game suspension.

Mets reliever Duaner Sanchez had hit Nick Johnson -- his second batter -- in the seventh, two innings after Johnson's three-run home run off Martinez tied the score. Sanchez was not ejected. Mets rookie Brian Bannister hit Guillen and Alfonso Soriano on Wednesday night.

"I know how to take care of it -- don't worry," Guillen said after the game on Thursday. "I'm going to make sure I play in all the games [that Martinez is] in ... I want him to throw inside. Now I want him more than ever."

Marty Noble is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.