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BASEBALL Dodgers upset that Piazza entered visitors' clubhouse



Published: Mon, March 17, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



It's not the first time that the Mets' catcher and Guillermo Mota have had words.

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

JUPITER, Fla. -- The Los Angeles Dodgers would like to remind everyone that there are two sides to every story.

Granted, the Mike Piazza vs. Guillermo Mota story seems particularly tilted, but that doesn't mean the Dodgers aren't upset with Piazza's part in the Wednesday night brawl. Mota drilled Piazza in the shoulder on his second pitch of the inning, and Piazza charged the mound.

In particular, Dodgers GM Dan Evans was angry that Piazza was able to get into the visitors' clubhouse at Thomas J. White Stadium in Port St. Lucie. After changing out of his uniform, Piazza left the Mets' clubhouse and got into his black BMW, but drove around to the other side of the stadium looking for Mota.

Security issues

"I'm very disturbed the security was such . . . that an opposing player would be allowed in our clubhouse," Evans said Thursday. "First of all, that's baseball protocol. You don't belong there. We all know that.

"It was not only poor judgment on his part, but poor of the security staff to let him in there."

Although most of the Mets were adamant that Mota's sixth-inning plunking was intentional, the pitcher denied that on Thursday. He also denied that it had anything to do with last spring's confrontation between the two in Vero Beach, when Piazza approached Mota an inning after Mota had hit him with a pitch and grabbed the pitcher by his shirt collar.

Supports pitcher

Dodgers manager Jim Tracy backed up his hurler's statements on Thursday, and took issue with Art Howe's assertion that Wednesday's incident was a "setup" that Tracy had a role in.

"If you want to talk about premeditation, if you want to talk about setup, I remember late last March at Holman Stadium," Tracy said. "Mike sat in that dugout and waited for quite a while."

Tracy said he had not contacted Howe, and many Dodgers said this was not an issue between the two teams.

"It was between two individuals," said Brian Jordan, who drove Mota away from the stadium Wednesday night because he was worried about fans retaliating against Mota. "We understand that and I know they understand that."

Actually, most Mets said on Thursday that the issue is far from dead. Reliever Scott Strickland, who played with Mota in Montreal in 1999, called him "pretty much a punk." He said Mota was caught stealing equipment from other players on the team and was fined for it.




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