Along with hiring Dave Roberts as their new manager during the offseason, the Los Angeles Dodgers overhauled their coaching staff. Only pitching coach Rick Honeycutt was retained, with Turner Ward among the new additions.
Ward, who replaced Mark McGwire as hitting coach, is of course a familiar name for his involvement in the 2013 brawl between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers.
Just over two months into what was shaking out to be a disappointing 2013 season, the Dodgers hosted the Diamondbacks in the second of a three-game set at Dodger Stadium.
Los Angeles entered the game 27-36, while Arizona was 36-28 and sitting atop the National League West division. Zack Greinke took the hill for his sixth outing since returning from a broken collarbone suffered in fight with former San Diego Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin in just his second career start with the Dodgers.
Arizona sent Ian Kennedy to the mound, and the evening’s starting pitchers exchanged in a tit-for-tat that culminated with a benches-clearing brawl. It began with Kennedy hitting Yasiel Puig in the face with a pitch. Andre Ethier followed with a two-run homer, tying the game at 2-2 through six innings.
Greinke retaliated by plunking Miguel Montero on the back to open the seventh, which prompted both benches to empty. Although baseball tradition dictates the sides were even at that point, Kennedy wasn’t finished.
He hit Greinke with a pitch in the bottom of the seventh, inciting a benches-clearing brawl. Dodgers relief pitcher J.P. Howell slammed Ward, then the D-Backs assistant hitting coach, against the railing near the photographer well by the visitors’ dugout and punched him.
Naturally, Howell was taken aback with news of the Dodgers hiring Ward, via Andy McCullough of the LA Times:
“I’m like ‘[expletive], dude. We hired Turner [expletive] Ward,'” Howell said. “Not knowing him at all. Thinking ‘This is weird, so weird.'”
Ward said he understood Howell’s actions and the two had a positive conversation to clear the air:
“It was such a good conversation because it just opened the door,” Ward said. “I know exactly what J.P. was doing in that situation, doing what you would want any guy on your team to do. We had a really good laugh about it.”
Kennedy received a 10-game suspension, Eric Hinske was suspended for five games, Howell, McGwire and Skip Schumaker were each suspended two games, Ronald Belisario, Kirk Gibson and Don Mattingly received one-game suspensions.
Greinke, Montero, Gerardo Parra and Puig were fined an undisclosed amount. The Dodgers of course went on a historic run that summer, propelling them to a NL West title and celebration in the right-field pool at Chase Field, much to the chagrin of the Diamondbacks.