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Rays say they can learn from Garza-Navarro conflict

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Rays are looking at Sunday's scuffle between RHP Matt Garza and C Dioner Navarro two ways: trying to put the specifics in the past, but claiming it will benefit them in the future.

"We had a good discussion today, we handled everything in-house, and I'm very satisfied," manager Joe Maddon said. "I feel very good about it having a positive impact on the near and far future."

Pitching coach Jim Hickey said there is an obvious lesson for Garza: "A little bit of less drama and less theatrics and less expenditure of energy and that type of thing … and more focused on the task at hand, the making of the pitch. Just channel the energy, the emotion, the enthusiasm and all that good stuff into being a better pitcher vs. being so dramatic."

And for a team that is getting something of a rogue reputation, having brawled with the Yankees, the Red Sox and now each other, Maddon said it can be a unifying issue.

"For Matt, it's a growth moment for him, and it's a growth moment for all of us," he said. "A lot of times you see situations like this, the perception from the outside is that there's something wrong with that team. And that's the farthest thing from the truth right now. There's nothing wrong with this team."

Though no one will say what sparked the heated exchanges, team officials said it was not — as some reports said — over Garza shaking off Navarro's call before giving up a home run.

Hickey speculated it was about Garza's "gesturing" on the mound, but he was more interested in "making it a steppingstone instead of a stumbling block" and "cleaning up the fallout from whatever miscommunication there was."

Navarro wouldn't share, but said "I was doing my job." Garza, through a team spokesman, declined comment.

Maddon said there would be no discipline against Garza, and he planned for Navarro to catch Garza's next start on Saturday. Though Maddon said things were worked out in a series of conversations Sunday and Monday, Navarro said before Monday's game he had yet to sit down with Garza but would soon and didn't anticipate any problems.

"I love Matt," Navarro said. "Matt is my boy. I don't think it will get any further than it is right now."

SHIELDS UP: RHP James Shields has several reasons to consider tonight a big start. He wants to make up for his abbreviated outing in Thursday's brawl game, and he's likely to miss his next one while serving his suspension (which may get reduced from six games to five).

But the biggest? He rented a suite for tonight so his family, which lives in the area, can be together to watch him, including his 82-year-old grandmother, who has never seen him pitch as a pro.

It hasn't been easy for the family to see Shields in Anaheim, as his 2006 start was moved up a day when Scott Kazmir was hurt, causing a scramble for tickets, and last year the Rays decided the day before that he wouldn't pitch to limit his innings.

MISCELLANY: RHP Troy Percival will throw a "simulated" inning this afternoon, the last test of his previously sore left hamstring before Friday's expected activation. … Rocco Baldelli was 1-for-4 and ran well in an extended spring training game Monday; he'll play one more Wednesday then is expected to join one of the minor-league teams. … RHP Marquis Fleming, the 24th-round draft pick, signed, according to the Modesto Bee. … Maddon gave CF B.J. Upton a "mini day off" by using him as the DH on Monday and starting Justin Ruggiano in centerfield. … Carlos Pena was fourth among first basemen in the latest All-Star balloting with 296,769 votes; Carl Crawford was 12th among outfielders (with 352,850) and Upton 15th (with 298,653).

Rays say they can learn from Garza-Navarro conflict 06/09/08 [Last modified: Thursday, June 12, 2008 2:47pm]
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