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Rizzo Wrecks Hedges in Play at Plate

There was a lot of Padres-Cubs history involved in a play that nearly endangered the Friars’ future in San Diego’s 3-2 loss at Wrigley Field on Monday.

Anthony Rizzo already broke the Padres’ hearts by struggling in San Diego and then becoming an All-Star first baseman after being traded to the Cubs, but he nearly made himself Petco’s Public Enemy #1 with a scary collision with promising young catcher Austin Hedges at home plate in the sixth inning.

The former focus of #Rizzomania at Petco circa 2011 was trying to tag up from third to score what at the time would have been the tying run on a liner to center field, but the throw by Matt Szczur (a Cub himself until being traded to the Padres last month) beat Rizzo by a few steps.

Hedges gave Rizzo a lane on the outside part of the plate to slide, but the big first baseman awkwardly went inside instead and kneed Hedges in the thigh as he applied the tag, sending Hedges tumbling backwards before crawling and eventually getting to his feet.

If Hedges had dropped the ball, Rizzo would have almost certainly been called out via Rule 7.13, more commonly known as the Posey rule after Giants star catcher Buster Posey fractured his ankle in a violent collision in 2011 and prompted the rule change.

Hedges was taken out before having the opportunity to hit or squat behind the plate again and the team is calling it a bruised thigh, far less damaging than Posey’s injury. Lots of Padre fans on Twitter were calling for Rizzo to get plunked but his only at-bat afterwards came with two on and two outs in the seventh inning and Brad Hand got him to fly out.

San Diego might have had another time to face him if they had scored in the top of the ninth, but couldn’t get a run across despite having guys on second and third with one out and Wil Myers at the plate. A strikeout by Myers and a groundout by Hunter Renfroe ended the game in a 3-2 defeat.

Whether the Padres choose to play beanball with Rizzo later in the series is yet to be determined — manager Andy Green called it a “cheap shot” after the game so this matter likely isn’t settled. In any event, the team can at least breathe a sigh of relief that the play at the plate didn’t end up a lot worse for Hedges.

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