Kimbrel was pitching in a scoreless game on Thursday when Giants center fielder Angel Pagan, leading off the ninth inning, got into a war of words briefly with Padres catcher Derek Norris.
"He threw a piece of gum at me that had already been chewed, and I just kicked it back and asked him, 'What are you doing?'" Norris explained. "He had some choice words, and that obviously didn't sit too well with me. I don't come into center field and throw gum at him when he's playing defense."
Pagan had a different take of the events.
Pagan said he threw a piece of gum underneath Norris after taking a first-pitch ball from Kimbrel. But he insisted that he was trying to throw the gum, which was resting where he wanted to plant one of his feet in his batting stance, suitably clear of Norris.
But because Pagan's batting glove was sticky -- like the gum itself -- his toss went awry.
Asked to relate his side of the story, Pagan began by saying, "If I told you, you'd start laughing."
But there was no laughter as the hostility between Pagan and Norris quickly escalated, prompting them to jaw at each other briefly but intensely.
"He started giving me stuff," Pagan said, once Norris found the gum underneath him. "That's when we started arguing with each other. ... We play with so much adrenaline, sometimes these things happen."
Pagan's fury rose after Kimbrel brushed him back with his next pitch, a 97-mph fastball. So when Pagan tripled to right-center field on a 3-2 pitch, he felt perturbed as well as pleased.
"I was really angry at the moment," Pagan said. "I didn't feel like I did anything wrong."
Summarizing the incident, Pagan attributed it to competitive fire.
"Things like that happen," Pagan said. "This is baseball. We're trying to win a division. We're all playing hard; we have that attitude. That's his game face. I respect that. But he didn't have to get [upset]."
Norris remained miffed after the game at what transpired.
"There's no need for that," he said. "I don't know what the piece of gum thrown at my feet is. It's just kind of strange. I've never really seen that before. Hopefully we settled it then and there."