On Monday, the Dodgers will honor Jackie Robinson and the indelible contributions he made to the game of baseball. That they can celebrate his life wearing Dodger blue uniforms with the No. 42 across the back makes it an even bigger honor.
Under the direction of Commissioner Bud Selig, that number was retired across all of Major League Baseball in 1997, but every team in the league will wear the number on Monday in honor of Jackie Robinson Day.
Despite the splendor of the pregame festivities honoring Robinson, tensions will be high Monday, as the Dodgers and Padres take the field for the first time since the brawl that landed starter Zack Greinke with a fractured collarbone and Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin with an eight-game suspension.
As Chad Billingsley takes the mound for the Dodgers, he said he'll approach the game the same he would any other day. Probable warnings against beanballs aside, he said he won't be afraid to pitch inside.
"I've still got to go out and pitch. Commanding the inside part of the plate, you can't be one-dimensional," Billingsley said. "If they issue a warning and a ball gets away and you hit a guy, hopefully the umpires know it's not on purpose. It could be a two-seamer or a breaking ball that slips. You've still got to be able to pitch inside in this game."
Padres manager Bud Black won't change his club's approach either. Black played down the matchup over the weekend, saying he doesn't expect too much drama with so much attention on the game.
"Honestly, I would be surprised if there's a carryover," Black said. "That's my own personal opinion. Awareness is heightened on previous incidents, and both teams were talked to about the ramifications of further incidents. It truly will be baseball first."
What's more, Black's club won't want to do anything to keep them from snapping their five-game losing streak. San Diego was swept in three games by the Rockies after their 2-1 loss Sunday, and will probably be more focused on getting a win.
Padres starter Eric Stults couldn't ask for more motivation as he tries to brush off his last start against the Dodgers last Wednesday. The left-hander allowed four runs in just five innings in his second start, also giving up two home runs. Stults is 0-1 in his career against the Dodgers, with a 4.09 ERA through 11 innings.
Dodgers: Magic Honors 42
The Dodgers have been celebrating Jackie Robinson all weekend, capping it off Monday by hosting Robinson's widow, Rachel Robinson, and her family. Dodgers partner Magic Johnson spoke about Robinson's legacy.
"Jackie's impact on baseball, society and the lives of our children and our children's children is unmatched," Johnson said. "I'm humbled to celebrate a great Dodger and a better man."
Dodgers: Mattingly Keeps His Cool
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly thinks his team has been punished enough. After losing infielder Jerry Hairston Jr. for one game and Greinke for extended time to injury, the skipper isn't looking for a fight.
"We'll probably talk about it, but I don't have anything major to talk about," Mattingly said. "We're going to protect our guys in game situations, but honestly, I don't think when Carlos goes out there he's thinking he's going to break somebody's shoulder."
Padres: Quentin Drops Appeal
Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin dropped his appeal of his eight-game suspension Sunday. Quentin decided to start his suspension after it became clear his request for a reduction in games wouldn't be granted. "I know Carlos did not want to go any further down this path," Black said, "From what I gathered, the suspension was going to stay at eight games, but I think the main factor in this decision is that Carlos wanted to put this behind him as quickly as possible."
Padres: Blanks Called Up
It's never ideal to be called up from Triple-A after another player is suspended. Regardless, Kyle Blanks isn't seeing himself as Quentin's replacement. The right-hander has been swinging the bat well, hitting .354 with 14 RBIs in Spring Training and 8-for-27 with Tucson this season.
"I feel comfortable at the plate," Blanks said. "Regardless of how long I'm up here or where I'm playing, I want to keep producing with the bat. I'm fully healthy, which is the most important thing. Those things are the keys that will keep me going strong."
Prior to Monday's game, former Dodger Tommy Davis, center fielder Matt Kemp and Sharon Robinson will visit Washington Middle School. Jackie Robinson attended the school, and the group will discuss Sharon Robinson's new book, "Jackie Robinson: American Hero".
Gary Cotton is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.