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Leyland might throw baseball, but not a punch

Published Sep. 13, 2005

Florida manager Jim Leyland could have warned Jeff Van Gundy about the hazards of leaving the bench when tempers flare during a game.

Leyland watched Van Gundy's futile attempt to break up a fight during the Heat-Knicks NBA playoff game Thursday. When the subject came up Friday, Leyland smiled, reached into the briefcase on his desk and dug out three souvenir photos.

The pictures, taken on Aug. 24, 1993, showed pitcher Kevin Gross with his hand on Leyland's throat.

"That was my last fight," Leyland said. "I don't go out there anymore. All you do is make a fool of yourself and get yourself killed."

Leyland learned the lesson in a brawl involving his Pirates and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Trouble began when Gross hit Kevin Young in the head with a pitch. Pittsburgh pitcher Bob Walk retaliated by hitting Gross in the leg and was ejected. Leyland argued with the umpire and was also ejected, then exchanged words with Gross and charged the Dodgers pitcher.

"That was stupid," Leyland said. "I threw one punch that didn't connect. I don't think it would have knocked him down anyway."

Leyland said ESPN replayed the fight and included a tale of tape, showing Leyland at 5 feet 10 and 170 pounds and Gross at 6-3 and 225.

"Thank God Don Slaught (the Pirates' catcher) grabbed Gross and broke it up," Leyland said.

Leyland was suspended for five games and fined $7,500. He later made peace with Gross.

But the next fight, he plans to sit out.

CARDINALS: 3B Gary Gaetti had two hits and is hitting .444 (20-for-45) at Wrigley Field. . . . The rock group Cheap Trick performed during the seventh inning stretch.

CUBS: OF Lance Johnson was placed on the 15-day DL, retroactive to April 28, because of inflammation in his right hand. Outfielder Matt Mieske was recalled from Triple-A Iowa.

DODGERS: Los Angeles became the first team to open an Asian office. Eizaburo Kohrogi, assistant to president Bob Graziano, will add the title of director of Asian relations and oversee daily operations of the newly-formed office, based at Fox's Tokyo headquarters. . . . Mike Piazza, who has won player of the month honors four times, is a candidate for April after being selected player of the week twice. "He's been doing a great job as usual," Manager Bill Russell said. "He started a little slow, but everyone knows what type of hitter he is. We knew he would come around, and it happened just like we expected." He is batting .326 (31-for-95) with eight home runs and 26 RBI.

PHILLIES: Former reliever Mitch Williams was the public-address announcer for the Astros game. "They called and asked me if I'd do it," said Williams, who helps run his father-in-law's bowling alley in nearby Pennsauken, New Jersey. "I wasn't busy tonight so I said fine, no big deal."

REDS: Reliever Todd Williams was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis. . . . Deion Sanders used to ride a bicycle to home games. He is gone, but his tradition lingers. Pete Harnisch cycled to Cinergy Field on Wednesday and pitched a two-hitter against Philadelphia _ in fact, he became the first Reds pitcher to earn a complete-game, 1-0 victory since Tom Browning on Sept. 16, 1988. "It's not like I'm a triathlete or anything," Harnisch said. "I live right down the road."

ASTROS: Houston leads the NL in stolen bases with 39, but has been caught a league-high 20 times.

BRAVES: Atlanta has homered in 13 consecutive games, seven short of the club record set in 1973. . . . Greg Maddux has given up at least one homer in his past three starts, after allowing none in his first three.

BREWERS: Manager Phil Garner is upset about a $250 fine the league levied against RHP Jeff Juden, who threw a pitch 5 feet behind San Francisco's Marvin Benard on Sunday. "It wasn't our fault. They emptied the benches and we get fined," Garner said.

DIAMONDBACKS: Devon White led off the game against Montreal with a homer for the 31st time in his career.

DODGERS: Eric Young collided with Pirates 1B Kevin Young while running down the first-base line on Thursday. "He knocked the wind out of me," Eric Young said. "I told him he reminded me that I made the right decision not to play football." He was a wide receiver at Rutgers.

GIANTS: Barry Bonds hit his eighth home run off Maddux, improving his lifetime average to .305, in the Giants' 6-2 loss. "If I face Maddux three times and hit three home runs, and we lose, it didn't mean a thing," he said. "I don't care what my stats are against Maddux, I care about winning. Maddux does seem to find a way to win."

PHILLIES: Manager Terry Francona and coach Chuck Cottier were ejected by plate umpire Jerry Meals in the fifth, when they claimed Matt Beech's run-scoring wild pitch actually hit the bat of Brad Ausmus.

PIRATES: Mark Smith struck out and is hitless in 28 at-bats. That's the longest stretch without a hit from the start of a season since Jose Gonzalez opened the 1991 season 0-for-28.


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