TOKYO (AP) — The brawl between Canadian and Mexican players at the World Baseball Classic has caused concern in Japan, where bunting is a huge part of the game.
The brawl began in the ninth inning Saturday when Rene Tosoni was hit by a pitch from Mexico's Arnold Leon after Canada's Chris Robinson reached on a bunt single with his team leading 9-3.
The Mexicans considered it a violation of baseball's unwritten rule that you don't run up the score late in a game by bunting to get on base.
Video of the fracas spread across the globe and was a big topic of discussion in Japan, where baseball brawls are rare.
In Japan, players steal bases and bunt late in games regardless of the score because it's considered fundamentally sound.
Japan won the first two versions of the WBC and is aiming to defend the title when the team travels to the United States for the March 17-19 championship round in San Francisco, but isn't expecting any confrontations like the one witnessed between Canada and Mexico.
"We don't want to fight," Japan head coach Masataka Nashida said on Monday, adding that his "players will say, 'Run!'" if a brawl breaks out.
"We just have to look at the size of those guys, and we'll stop in our tracks for fear," he said.
Managers from both Canada and Mexico blamed the tiebreaking rule that uses run differential to determine what team moves on to the next round.
Masanori Murakami, the first Japanese to play in Major League Baseball, said the incident was a result of the Mexicans not understanding the rules.
"The Canadians had every right to bunt in that situation and that is not unusual in Japan," Murakami said.
Nashida said the brawl, which was shown on Japanese TV and featured prominently in Japanese sports newspapers, was bad for the game as it tries to get back in the Olympics.
"Children watch this and get the wrong message," Nashida said. "It's really impermissible, especially for a sport that aspires to be in the Olympics. I don't think this is a good thing."