ST. PETERSBURG — There is no controversy, no simmering situation, White Sox shortstop Orlando Cabrera said. There was a misunderstanding, and it was his. There was a battle, and he lost.
"It was just a moment of heat on the battlefield," he said. "We were trying to challenge each other. Nothing big. We're at war, and I lost the battle. That's all."
Emotions appeared high and patience low with the bases loaded and two out in the seventh inning Thursday and the Rays leading 6-3.
Reliever Grant Balfour, an animated sort who works himself up with intensity and blue language, struck out the first batter he faced, Juan Uribe, for the second out and in the process agitated Cabrera, who was next to the plate.
After one ball, Cabrera reacted to Balfour's histrionics by kicking dirt toward the mound. Balfour walked toward the player, and catcher Dioner Navarro and home plate umpire Joe West intervened.
"I was like, 'Hey, he wasn't even talking to you. He was being good,' " Navarro said. "I was trying to explain to (Cabrera) he wasn't talking to Uribe or talking to him. That's just the way (Balfour) is, and I don't even think about it anymore. I think (Cabrera) understood afterward."
But after Cabrera struck out to end the inning, more words were exchanged, including by Chicago catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who had been on first base, and Rays bench coach Dave Martinez. They appeared to shout and gesture as Navarro again stepped in front of Cabrera.
Claws were retracted once Cabrera learned that his scouting report on Balfour failed to include the 30-year-old Australian's demeanor.
"They say he always gets pumped up like that," Cabrera said. "I didn't know that, so I just got mad a little bit, and I was just pumped up."
Pierzynski, who briefly played with Balfour in the Minnesota farm system, resisted the chance to fan the incident in a rallying point.
"I didn't say a word to anybody," he said. "I think I saw Dave Martinez yelling at somebody. I don't know if he was yelling at Ozzie or who. I just ran off the field, so I don't know. I wasn't in the middle of it, so you guys can't blame me for once."