ST. PETERSBURG — Rays 2B/RF Ben Zobrist said it was "painfully obvious" that White Sox LHP Jose Quintana threw at him in the fourth inning Wednesday, which led to Quintana's ejection and both dugouts being warned.
"It was 2 feet behind me," Zobrist said. "I was just smirking, like, 'You think pitchers can hit their spots, they miss by quite a bit sometimes.' "
Zobrist believed it had something to do with White Sox C A.J. Pierzynski getting hit on the shoulder by RHP Alex Cobb the previous inning. Zobrist had taken issue with Pierzynski for his slide into second base in Tuesday's game, when he said the veteran catcher clipped him in the left ankle with his cleat trying to break up a double play.
"I didn't think there was a play at first base and I was on the very back of the bag and he went out of his way to come take his cleat on my ankle," Zobrist said. "I just let him know I didn't think it was necessary."
Rays manager Joe Maddon said he didn't direct any of his players to retaliate Wednesday, and Cobb said his plunking of Pierzynski wasn't on purpose.
"I was just trying to go fastball in and yanked it a little bit," Cobb said.
Quipped Pierzynski: "Pretty standard 0-0 pitch."
Then again, Quintana also said he didn't have any intent with his wild pitch behind Zobrist. Quintana said Pierzynski made a late call for a changeup when he was ready to throw a fastball, and instead of crossing up his catcher, he threw it and "it slipped out."
Said Pierzynski: "I set up away, and he threw it in; I don't know."
Quintana said he was surprised when he was ejected by plate umpire Mark Wegner, and White Sox manager Robin Ventura and Pierzynski argued the call.
"I've never seen anything like it," Ventura said. "I was shocked. Usually if a guy feels it's intent, it's a warning and it goes from there. And we just agreed to disagree."
Zobrist and Maddon believe Wegner did a great job of handling the situation, keeping it from escalating.
Said Maddon: "When a pitcher throws behind you like that it's pretty obvious what their intent was, regardless of the denials on the other side."
ON THE MEND: OF Desmond Jennings (left knee sprain) will begin a rehab assignment with Class A Charlotte today and Triple-A Durham on Friday. He hopes to rejoin the Rays on Tuesday in New York.
Jennings, who has missed 18 games, passed his final test Wednesday morning, running the bases and sliding in a pregame workout. He said he felt good, with no problems, and has been pushing himself to his top speed.
"I need to get in a little shape, but I feel I'm ready," Jennings said. "It's been the longest two, three weeks that I've had. Just going to play somewhere is going to be a relief for me."
PITCHING IN: Though Cobb picked up his first loss in three starts since getting called up, he said he felt he had "good stuff" in a five-inning outing.
Cobb allowed a career-high nine hits and as many runs (four) as his previous two starts combined. But he was encouraged he kept the ball on the ground.
"I was hitting all my spots, my offspeed spot was good, they're just a hot team right now," Cobb said. "They found some holes, and they hit some balls hard."
Maddon said Cobb, pulled after 91 pitches, would have lasted longer had the Rays made more plays on defense. "I didn't think he pitched badly at all," Maddon said.
MOLINA MAGNET: C Jose Molina took a foul tip off his quad, and another off his left arm in one Pierzynski at-bat in the seventh, but stayed in the game. "He's just a ball magnet, he really is," Maddon said. "He gets hit with foul tips as much as any catcher I've ever been around. It's awkward, it's strange, why does it happen? I have no clue, but he does."