ARLINGTON, Texas — From the way the Rays talked about it after Sunday's 6-3 loss, it was as if there was nothing more than a casual conversation, an "exchange of ideas," as manager Joe Maddon said.
But what happened was very obvious and very public, thanks to TV replays posted on the Internet, as pitcher Matt Garza and catcher Dioner Navarro engaged in a heated exchange on the mound during the fourth inning then a shoving match in the dugout that led to Garza being removed from the game.
"It's just one of those things that happens on occasion, and we take care of it," Maddon said. "Just write what you saw. That's all I got. Just write what you saw. It's something that we're going to take care of, and we're going to take care of soon."
What that meant, like the cause or the effect going forward, was unclear, though there was a lot of talk of handling things internally as the Rays (37-26) dropped 1½ games out of first as they head to Anaheim.
As if on cue, Garza, 24, then walked into Maddon's office. He spent about 15 minutes there with the door closed then, looking as if it had been emotional, spent 57 seconds talking to reporters insisting there wasn't anything to talk about — though apparently something to fix.
What happened with Navarro?
"Nothing really, just keep it in-house and fix it. That's about it," Garza said. "Heat of passion, probably. We're both competitors. Whatever happened will stay here, and we're going to fix it. We definitely can fix it. This is a great bunch of guys, and everybody's on each other's side, and we're going to fix it. It's a big step, and we're going to fix it."
As for the meeting with Maddon?
"Nothing about today," Garza said. "It was just some stuff I have to fix. Nothing physically, nothing like that, just stuff I have to fix, that's about it."
Navarro was equally vague.
"It was just something that happened during the game, and it's being taken care of," he said. "It happens in the family. I think everybody is going to be fine from this point on. It was really nothing."
With Garza three lockers away, Navarro said there was nothing wrong that could not be repaired, like brothers fighting.
"I think it will be good from this point on," he said. "We're fine."
Garza is known for being emotional on the mound, sometimes to a fault, enough so that closer Troy Percival said this season that he'd fine him $500 every time he acts up.
That certainly seemed to be the case Sunday in a sequence that started with one out in the fourth and the Rays down 1-0 in an already sloppy effort.
A blooper dropped between shortstop Jason Bartlett and leftfielder Carl Crawford. Then Garza gave up a homer to No. 9 hitter German Duran on a 3-2 pitch. Ian Kinsler followed with a single, and when Navarro went to the mound, he and Garza had a very heated disagreement.
Pitching coach Jim Hickey came to the mound and, as Navarro walked away, took over the conversation with Garza.
"He's an emotional guy out there on the mound, and I was just trying basically to encourage him to channel his energy and his emotions more toward the task at hand versus just kind of wasting it out there," Hickey said.
Garza seemed to do that by getting the next two batters out, though he threw a remarkably wild pitch on what was supposed to be a pitchout.
But then as Garza got in the dugout, he appeared to say something to Navarro and grab his shoulder. Navarro appeared not to like it and pushed Garza back as the scuffle moved into the tunnel leading back to the clubhouse, and Hickey, Maddon and several others raced to break it up.
No one would say how it started, or what it was over, such as pitch selection, though Maddon made this much clear: "Navi was not the irritant."
Hickey, though, said it was "more of a mutual thing."
"Obviously,'' he said, "it was something that bothered both of them, and they worked it out.''
Marc Topkin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.