DAYTONA BEACH – Cubs pitching prospect Mitch Atkins is not afraid to go inside against hitters. Standing 6-foot-3 and weighing 230 pounds, the right-hander says he can protect himself on the mound from any opposing batter's would-be reaction to getting in the way of a pitch inside. For a brief moment on Monday night, it looked like Atkins might get his chance to prove it.
After hitting Dunedin's Eric Nielsen
with a pitch in the third inning of Monday's 7-6 Class-A Daytona win over the Blue Jays, Atkins received "the stare."
Nielsen stepped briefly in front of home plate following the incident, causing umpire Cory Hinga to step in front of Nielsen – seemingly as an unofficial and nonchalant way to sidebar any potential clash between batter and pitcher.
Cooler heads prevailed, at least until an inning later when Dunedin starter Kristian Bell plunked Cubs leadoff hitter Chris Amador, who had homered in each of his two previous at-bats.
As for Atkins' overall performance, he went five innings and allowed four earned runs on four hits. The 21-year-old and 2007 Florida State League All-Star struck out a season-high seven and walked three.
After the game, he touched on his success this season.