tampabay.com

Piniella expects calm during Boston series

By MARC TOPKIN
Published July 18, 2005


TORONTO - The Devil Rays and Red Sox meet tonight for the first time since they exchanged pushes during an April24 brawl and manager Lou Piniella and pitcher Curt Schilling traded insults in the ensuing days.

Piniella said Sunday he does not any anticipate any extension of the hostilities, which have flared several times in recent years, or any further dialogue with Schilling.

He does, however, expect the umpires to warn both teams - "I think we'll get a double red alert" - that tolerance for problems will be low.

"We're going in there to play baseball, nothing more, nothing less," Piniella said. "Boston doesn't want any problems. We certainly don't want any problems. We just want to go in and play baseball.

"I hope we go in there and play three good baseball games and take our chances and there are no problems whatsoever."

The April24 melee erupted when after the sixth hit batter of the three-game series, Tampa Bay's Lance Carter threw one pitch behind Manny Ramirez then another near David Ortiz 's head. There was a later scrum when Boston's Bronson Arroyo hit Chris Singleton .

More words were exchanged than punches, though four players and both managers were suspended and two other players were fined. All served their punishment except Dewon Brazelton , whose appeal, delayed by his six-week absence, is supposedly still to be heard.

The Red Sox were not happy to hear that Brazelton had not served his punishment, though outfielder Trot Nixon , who was suspended for clashing with Brazelton, had more of an issue with MLB disciplinarian Bob Watson .

"I did my time," Nixon told the Boston Globe . "This isn't directed at (Brazelton). I don't know what Watson is doing."

Two days after the melee, Schilling went on Boston radio and said Piniella "forgot how the game is played" and claimed several Rays referred to their manager during the brawl as "this idiot."

Piniella, stunned and hurt by the criticism, fired back in a statement, saying he had "forgotten more baseball" than Schilling knew and that the veteran right-hander should "be really embarrassed at the cheap shot he took."

Piniella said he talked with Schilling a few days later and the matter was closed. Sunday, he said, "Everything is fine. ... We had a nice conversation, and it's over with."

Several other Rays also downplayed the rematch with the Sox and Schilling. Carl Crawford , who was hit by a Schilling pitch in the April23 game and appeared to have words with him during the brawl, said, however: "I'm looking forward to seeing him. Looking forward to it with a capital L."

JOE, TOO: During the April radio show, Schilling also ripped Rays TV analyst Joe Magrane for comments he made during the telecast of the brawl, calling Magrane a "tool" and an "idiot."

Magrane declined to reply much then and on Sunday said the subject remained a nonissue.

"Curt is an articulate guy who tends to express himself, but I won't be engaged," he said.

MEDICAL REPORT: The first of Jesus Colome 's three scheduled rehab appearances at Double-A Montgomery went well. Colome, out a month with a sore shoulder, allowed one hit over one inning Saturday, threw only 11 pitches and was clocked at 94-96 mph. "He felt good," trainer Ken Crenshaw said. ... If Doug Waechter has no problems with the once-sore tendon in his right index finger during a bullpen session today, he will make a rehab start Wednesday or Thursday and rejoin the rotation next week. MISCELLANY: Chad Orvella earned his first major-league win. "Any win is a big win, but the first one is great," he said. "Hopefully the first of many." ... With the nonwaiver trade deadline less than two weeks away, Piniella said, "Basically, I sort of doubt we'll make a deal." ... Rookie Fernando Cortez singled in the seventh for his first major-league hit. ... The Rays won their second road series of the season and first from the Jays. It also was their second win in 15 Sunday afternoon games. ... Seth McClung matched his season high with eight strikeouts. ... Catcher Pete LaForest hit his 20th homer in his 66th game for Triple-A Durham. ... ... Class A Visalia's Joey Gomes extended his on-base streak to 35 games.