Pirates, Cards scuffle before game

Pirates, Cards scuffle before game

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals nearly came to blows in a pregame skirmish Wednesday afternoon at PNC Park.

The incident occurred as the Pirates were finishing their batting practice and Cardinals players were stretching on the field. Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon engaged in a heated discussion with Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan behind the batting cage before players and coaches from both teams joined in the fracas.

A television replay of the incident showed Duncan and Pirates hitting coach Gerald Perry involved in a confrontation, although it was unclear if there were any punches thrown. After McClendon instructed his team to get back into the dugout, he once again got into a shouting match with Duncan. The two men had to be restrained by Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, and both teams again emptied into the area behind home plate.

The players and coaches began yelling and pushing each other once again, but it is unclear if any punches where thrown. Approximately six police officers and other PNC Park security staff members rushed to the scene and joined with the coaching staffs from both clubs to restore order.

After tempers had cooled, McClendon and La Russa continued their discussion behind home plate in a more civil manner.

"There was some pushing and shoving," said McClendon. "It was just two competitive clubs. Both clubs want to win and things probably got a little bit out of hand. Tony and I have since talked and everything is fine."

La Russa did not want to discuss the skirmish with reporters.

"I have nothing to say. How's that for a comment?" said La Russa.

The incident was sparked when Duncan approached Pirates reliever Rick White about a pitch White had thrown high and inside to Cardinals infielder Hector Luna the night before. It was Luna who took out Pirates second baseman Jose Castillo on a double play Monday when Castillo suffered a season-ending MCL injury.

"This whole thing, from what I consider, has gotten blown way out of proportion," said White. "Duncan asked me a question today and probably shouldn't have. If Tony had a question to ask, then Tony should have just came up and asked me. I would have talked to him. Instead, he went through Duncan and skip [McClendon] didn't like that too much. And whatever happened, happened."

Perry declined to comment on the exchange after the game.

"I'm sure there were some sensitive feelings as to whether or not some of their players were thrown at intentionally," said McClendon. "I think we got all of that straightened out."

The two teams have a recent history of bad blood. In 2002, the benches cleared when McClendon got into a shouting match with Cardinals center fielder Jim Edmonds. Last season, McClendon left the Pirates dugout and charged at La Russa because the Cardinals skipper had yelled at Pirates reliever Mike Gonzalez for throwing inside to St. Louis hitters. Both managers were suspended for their roles in that confrontation.

Following the batting practice incident Wednesday, the Pirates clubhouse was closed to the media for approximately 30 minutes for a team meeting. McClendon and LaRussa then met with the umpiring crew in the umpire's dressing room at the request of crew chief Jerry Crawford.

"The umpires talked to Tony and I, and Tony and I already had it worked out," said McClendon.

McClendon assured that there would be no problems during the remaining two games of the four-game series.

"There will be peace and the games will be played clean, as they should be," said McClendon.

Ed Eagle is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.