Major League Baseball fines Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon over confrontation with Indians

ST. PETERSBURG — Manager Joe Maddon was very clear that he considered the Indians to blame for Sunday's benches-clearing confrontation.

But Major League Baseball did not agree.

Maddon was fined $500 for his actions in inciting the situation, based on his animated comments to Cleveland C Victor Martinez. MLB disciplinarian Bob Watson attended Wednesday's game and spoke to Maddon about the situation.

Maddon was upset because he felt closer Kerry Wood was throwing intentionally at B.J. Upton to avenge Upton stealing two bases when the Rays were down 9-0 in a previous game.

UPTON STUNNED: Upton still may be shaking his head today over the extraordinary running and diving catch A's CF Ryan Sweeney made to end the game. The catch came on Upton's liner to left-center that would have scored Ben Zobrist with the tying run.

"It's kind of just the way it's been going,'' Upton said. "I hit the ball good. There's nothing much else you can do. He made a great play on it. I knew it was going to be close. That's real close. Another inch, I mean, that's a triple. But he came up with it.''

Said A's manager Bob Geren: "Oh my. To me it looked like slow motion. … I don't know how he caught it. I'm looking forward to seeing that one again."

Sweeney was scraped and sore afterward, and thankful having been shifted toward right-center before Upton stepped up.

"I knew it would be close,'' he said. "When he pulled it, I was like, 'Oh, man, that's a long way to run.' I barely got there before it hit the ground."

NAVI BACK: C Dioner Navarro returned to the starting lineup Wednesday, getting his first hit in his past five games and saying he's ready to be himself again after suffering from pinkeye for several days.

Navarro, who last started Saturday, played Tuesday, entering in the ninth, batting twice and catching three innings. He said it was tough, but he's feeling better and "can see 100 percent now."

"I'm able to do all the stuff," he said. "It just wasn't very fun not being able to play around with the guys, not because they didn't want to; I didn't want to get them sick."

back on track: 1B Carlos Peña was one of a few Rays who participated in an early batting practice "small ball" drill. Maddon said it's a self-correcting drill that helps hitters who are feeling long or slow with the bat to get back on track. It appeared to pay off for Peña, who hit a two-run homer in the fourth (his 14th), snapping a season-long streak of 11 games without one.

miscellany: The Rays fell to 4-11 against left-handed starters, tying Oakland for the worst such record in the majors.

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com.

Major League Baseball fines Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon over confrontation with Indians 05/20/09 [Last modified: Thursday, May 21, 2009 6:47am]

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