The Chicago Cubs threw no punches. Manager Lou Piniella might have kicked an umpire, though. And it was more of the same for the Cubs. This time, they fell...
CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs threw no punches. Manager Lou Piniella might have kicked an umpire, though.
And it was more of the same for the Cubs. This time, they fell 5-3 to the Atlanta Braves on Saturday and lost their sixth straight.
One day after teammates Carlos Zambrano and Michael Barrett fought in the dugout and clubhouse, Piniella was ejected after Angel Pagan got caught trying to steal third base in the eighth inning. The manager kicked dirt and tossed his cap several times.
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Question is: Did he kick third-base umpire Mark Wegner, too?
Crew chief Bruce Froemming said yes. Piniella said no.
“He made physical contact with the third-base umpire,” Froemming said. “He made physical contact with his foot, and he kicked dirt on [Wegner] several times, and the rest was show-and-tell.”
Piniella countered: “Froemming is the one that put his hands on me.”
Froemming said he was simply trying to calm Piniella, who “just wouldn’t stop.” And Froemming planned to call Major League Baseball’s headquarters “immediately.”
That issue aside, Piniella said this about the call against Pagan: “He looked safe from the dugout, but after I saw the play, the umpire had it right.”
The crowd littered Wrigley Field with debris during Piniella’s argument with Wegner. The manager kicked dirt, tossed his cap, picked it up and tossed it again before leaving, as fans chanted “Lou! Lou! Lou!”
The umpires cleared the Atlanta players from the field and bullpen while the grounds crew picked up the garbage. Play resumed 7 minutes later.
When it was over, the Cubs had lost for the 10th time in the last 12 games, assuring them of losing their seventh series in their last eight. They are 22-31, eight games out of first place in the NL Central.
The descent into mayhem was hardly envisioned after the club committed about $300 million during the offseason to build a winner.
Piniella said he is getting tired of his team’s mistake-riddled play.
“I’ve had more meetings here in two months with players than I’ve had in my entire career of managing all these other places that I’ve been,” said Piniella, who has managed for 19 years.
How do you explain that?
“I don’t know,” he said. “How do you explain it? I wish I had an explanation, I really do.
“I know this,” he added with a chuckle. “I’ve gotten to know the players a lot better, and they’ve gotten to know me better.”
As for Zambrano and Barrett, both were fined Saturday for their Friday altercation. Barrett needed six stitches at a hospital and had a bruise below his left eye.
Zambrano blamed himself for the fight, saying “It’s all my fault.”
Barrett said he appreciated that and added there was no need for the pitcher to apologize.
“I think it happened because Zambrano and I are so close,” he said. “I think of him like a brother. It’s like a sibling rivalry.”