Tempers flare during Blue Jays-Rays finale

Tulowitzki takes exception to Souza Jr.'s late slide in the second inning

Tempers flare during Blue Jays-Rays finale

ST. PETERSBURG -- There clearly is no love lost between Toronto's Troy Tulowitzki and Tampa Bay's Steven Souza Jr. They've butted heads before, and the feelings resurfaced Sunday afternoon.

The unlikely rivalry began in 2016, and appear to have carried over into this year. The latest incident occurred during Sunday's series finale, when Souza slid late into second base while attempting to break up a double play.

Tulowitzki immediately reacted, and had some words for the Rays' outfielder as the dugouts emptied. Cooler heads eventually prevailed, but not before players and personnel from both sides spilled over onto the field. There was no physical altercation, and no ejections.

"I definitely respect the game," Tulowitzki said after his club lost 7-2. "I think [the slide] was a little late, and figured I should say something. Not so much for myself, but for other guys maybe in the future -- try to save injuries. I just felt it was a little late."

The previous incident between the two took place last September, when Souza crushed a ball to center field that nearly resulted in a game-tying home run. Souza watched that ball soar into the air from the batter's box and as he began to walk toward first base, he heard Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin say something.

It turned out Martin was trying to give Souza a compliment by saying, "I thought you got that one," but the Rays' veteran misheard and thought something offensive had been said. The two were in the process of working it out on the field when the dugouts emptied, which led to Tulowitzki running over from his shortstop position to defend his teammate.

Tulowitzki and Souza then exchanged words and the intensity of the situation picked up a bit. It was not publicly revealed what Tulowitzki said that day, but Souza said after the game that it was something, "below the belt."

Fast-forward to Sunday's game at Tropicana Field, where the two were at it again.

"I'm not going to play every game and wonder if Tulo is going to get upset about it," said Souza, who hit a three-run homer in his next at-bat. "I'm playing hard, and if he thinks I'm trying to be malicious, then he clearly doesn't know who I am. It's unfortunate that it turned into something like that, because it was just baseball. And hopefully, we can just squash it and move on, because I'm really tired of having the feud with them."

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.