Saturday, June 02, 2007

Carlos and Barrett say there sorry and get fined, Lou finally blows up!

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CHICAGO -- Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano shouldered the blame for the dugout skirmish with Michael Barrett that escalated into a fight in the clubhouse and resulted in six stitches in the catcher's lip and fines for both players.
"It's all my fault, that's all I can say," Zambrano said Saturday. "I feel bad for that because I have to be in control of myself. I was frustrated, we had a little discussion and it went into a fight. Like I said, It's all my fault."
Barrett was not in the lineup Saturday, and his face was scratched and puffy from the fight. However, he was available to play.
Neither player had talked to each other before meeting with the media Saturday.
"I told them to let this thing cool off for a day or two, and then we'll get them both in my office and we'll talk," said Cubs manager Lou Piniella, who issued the fines. "We'll either get this thing done [Sunday] or for sure in Milwaukee on Monday."
"We're definitely on the same page," Barrett said. "Things happen. Things are unfortunate. We had our differences yesterday. Today we're on the same page and we're ready to play."
In the fifth inning of Friday's game against the Atlanta Braves, a run scored on a combination passed ball and throwing error by Barrett. The Braves would eventually score five runs that inning. When the inning ended, Zambrano confronted Barrett in the dugout, and the pitcher pointed to his own head. There was a shoving match, and the players had to be separated.
Zambrano was escorted into the clubhouse and Barrett was supposed to stay in the game. But he went into the clubhouse, too, where the two were involved in a fight. Barrett had to go to a local hospital for treatment.
"I told him, 'Are you out of your mind?' That was what I told him," Zambrano said of his message to Barrett when he pointed to his head.
However, that was all either player would reveal about the fracas.
"Whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas," Zambrano said. "I don't have to say what happened in the clubhouse."
Why did Barrett go into the clubhouse?
"Everybody wants to know that," Barrett said. "I've known Carlos for 3 1/2 years. Carlos and I have had differences in the past and we've always come together. We've had it out on the mound, we've had it out in the dugout before. That's what teammates do sometimes.
"I went down in the clubhouse to talk through things because [the dugout incident] came unexpected," he said. "I wanted to clear my mind, clear my head, so I could go out and concentrate and focus on the game.
"I underestimated what he was going through," Barrett said. "I love Carlos. I know he feels the same about me. I never thought it would've came to that, but we move on."
Zambrano is an emotional player, as is Barrett, as evidenced by his run-in last year with White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski.
"This is something that happened, was spontaneous, wasn't planned, wasn't premeditated," Piniella said. "It was just frustrations that built up. Just let it go, and forget about it. The only thing we don't want is any continuation because if that's the case, we're going to have to suspend these players and we don't want to do that."
Zambrano's next start is scheduled for Wednesday in Milwaukee. Piniella said Koyie Hill, who was added to the roster Friday because Henry Blanco has a herniated disc, will likely catch Zambrano, and not Barrett.
The Cubs have not played up to expectations this season, and Zambrano's actions were believed to be more out of frustration than anger at Barrett.
"Me, personally, I think it happened because Zambrano and I are so close," Barrett said. "I think of Zambrano as a brother. You have sibling rivalry. I grew up with an older brother, and we had our differences, and we had it out a time or two. At the end of the day, we shook it off, we hugged one another and loved one another."
Zambrano said he has a good relationship with Barrett, and that before the White Sox series in May, Barrett helped him with a family problem.
"I appreciated that," Zambrano said.
Was there a crossup on the signs, which resulted in Barrett missing the pitch?
"All the things that happened in the clubhouse, on the field, what I told Michael, guys, I'm sorry, I can't tell you," Zambrano said. "It's not fair for him, it's not fair for me. It's too many distractions, it's too many bad things that happened. If I open my mouth and say something bad, it's going to be worse. I don't want this to be worse. I want this to be resolved."
Both players felt the incident could make the team stronger.
"We'll learn from this," Barrett said. "The one thing we'll learn from this is that we will no longer fight ourselves, and that by fighting together and playing baseball and focusing on the right things will make us stronger.
"A character guy like Zambrano, a passionate guy like he is, a passionate guy like I am, it just happened to get really heated," Barrett said. "Zambrano knows how I feel about him. He knows how much I care about him and how much I care about the game."
Anger management isn't the answer. Piniella wasn't even sure what that was. In all of his years as a manager and player, including his stints with the volatile New York Yankees and manager Billy Martin, anger management was never brought up.
"I think the only person who can control my emotions is God," Zambrano said. "I have to build my relationship with God and make it stronger. He's the only one who can control me. I come from a family, and my dad is like I am. I think it's in my blood."
Zambrano did slap and shove Barrett in the dugout. It was uncertain whether he threw any hard rights at the catcher in the clubhouse.
"They weren't all jabs, I can tell you that," Piniella said. "Look, these things happen. You don't want them to happen but they do happen. They happen on other teams. This is not peculiar just to the Chicago Cubs. In the heat of battle things do happen.
"The important thing is we learn from this and there's no continuation," he said. "Does it help or hurt? I'd rather have a little wildfire than no fire at all. You don't want to see teammates fight. There was some emotion shown. The important thing here is that nobody was seriously hurt."


CHICAGO -- Rich Hill ran too far. Angel Pagan didn't slide far enough. And, Lou Piniella may have stepped on an umpire's toes while giving Cub fans what they've been waiting for since he was hired -- a bona fide hat-throwing argument with an umpire.
Friday's fracas between Michael Barrett and Carlos Zambrano was just a warmup act.
Hill struck out six and hit an RBI double but it wasn't enough, as rookie Yunel Escobar hit a tiebreaking RBI double in the eighth and Andruw Jones added a solo homer in the ninth to give the Atlanta Braves a 5-3 victory over the Cubs on Saturday. The loss was Chicago's sixth in a row, a season high, and was highlighted by Piniella's first ejection of the season.
The Cubs manager went nose to nose with third-base umpire Mark Wegner, kicking dirt on his shoes and booting his own cap twice.
"It's good to have a manager like that," said Chicago's Alfonso Soriano, who hit a solo homer in the fifth. "I think he does a great job. He shows the players he has frustrations, too. I like a manager like that. He makes me want to come back tomorrow and makes me want to play hard for him."
The fireworks came after Pagan doubled to lead off the eighth against Rafael Soriano and tried to get to third on a passed ball by Atlanta's Jason Saltalamacchia. The catcher recovered in time to throw Pagan out at third, although Pagan and third-base coach Mike Quade disagreed. So did Piniella who ran onto the field to argue, which brought the crowd of 40,290 to its feet and, for some reason, prompted bleacher fans to throw garbage onto the field.
"The umpire was correct," Piniella said after the game. "The guy was out. I was going to argue if he was out, safe or whatever, it didn't make a bit of difference."
"He's been calm," Pagan said of Piniella. "I thought he was going to stay that way the whole year."
But was Pagan safe or out?
"I thought I was safe," Pagan said. "I was trying to be aggressive and make something happen for the team.
"From the angle, [the umpire] only saw the left hand," he said. "If you only see the left hand, I'm out. If you see the right hand, that hand was in front of my left, so it was there first."
Crew chief Bruce Froemming said Piniella kicked Wegner.
"He made physical contact with the third-base umpire," Froemming told a pool reporter. "He made physical contact with his foot, and he kicked dirt on [Wegner] several times, and the rest was show-and-tell.
"The whole world saw what he did," Froemming said. "It was a terrible display of disrespect and [the MLB office in] New York will be called immediately, and we'll take it from there."
"Froemming said that?" Piniella said. "He's wrong. The league office can look at the film. I kicked some dirt on a guy and that was it."
Froemming pulled Piniella away from the argument.
"We were trying to get him to save him some problems," Froemming said. "And he just wouldn't stop."
Hill may have been trying too hard. The lefty gave up three runs, one earned, on four hits over seven innings. He's been working on his hitting all week after getting pulled early in his last start for a pinch-hitter. Now, he needs to work on his baserunning.
With two outs in the bottom of the sixth the Cubs trailing, 3-1, Koyie Hill singled off Braves starter Chuck James. Rich Hill then doubled to right, put his head down and tried to get to third. He slid head-first but was out on a 9-4-5 relay.
"When I was rounding second, I was overly aggressive and made a mistake and messed up," the pitcher said. "When I turned, I looked and saw the ball was at the wall and [Jeff Francoeur] was still getting to the wall. I thought I had a shot at third. I thought it would be a better than average shot at third. I'll learn from it and move on."
The run did score, and the crowd gave Hill a standing ovation. The Cubs have scuffled on the field -- and in the dugout between teammates -- and his race around the bases brought the focus back to the game.
"I've talked to him about it," Piniella said, "and told him, 'How many times have you heard don't make the third out at third base?' He'd heard it. He got caught up in the moment."
It was Hill's second career double and second RBI this year. He also drove in a run when he drew a bases-loaded walk on May 5 against Washington.
"It's fun," Hill said of his hit. "You get dirty, you get to play the game as a pitcher. But it all comes down to you've got to win. If that run cost us the game, it was stupid."
Hill also made a mental mistake in the Braves' half of the fourth. Martin Prado walked to lead off and Escobar was safe when Hill fielded Escobar's ball, then turned and tried to throw to second. The throw hit Prado. Hill should've thrown to first. Edgar Renteria hit an RBI double, another run scored on Jones' groundout, and one out later, Matt Diaz hit an RBI double to make it 3-0.
Escobar, making his Major League debut, hit a two-out RBI double in the Atlanta eighth off Will Ohman for the game-winner, and the Cubs' bullpen now is a combined 4-14. Jones connected in the ninth off Michael Wuertz.
"Everybody's trying too hard," Soriano said. "As soon as we win the first game, everybody will be fine."
The Cubs have made their share of blunders.
"We made some mistakes again," Piniella said about the game. "I'm not going to talk about that anymore."
What's left to talk about?
"Hopefully we can go out and win some baseball games," Piniella said.

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