Piniella 'lost a lot of respect' for Schilling after comments
TORONTO-- A day after Boston pitcher Curt Schilling used the word "idiot" in criticizing Lou Piniella, the Tampa Bay manager held a team meeting and fired back.
The Red Sox and Devil Rays tangled Sunday, with two-bench clearing scuffles and six ejections. The teams have had trouble in the past, too.
"The problem is when you're playing a team with a manager who somehow forgot how the game is played, there's problems," Schilling said on a Boston radio station Tuesday. "This should have been over a little bit ago. Lou's trying to make his team be a bunch of tough guys, and the telling sign is when the players on that team are saying, 'This is why we lose 100 games a year, because this idiot makes us do stuff like this.' They [Rays players] said that on the field."
Piniella called a team meeting before Wednesday night's game at Toronto and issued a statement ripping Schilling.
"Forget how the game is played? I have forgotten more baseball than this guy knows," Piniella said.
"On the idiot subject, I'm appalled he would actually say something like that. I had a meeting with my team and to a man they denied it. He's questioning my character and integrity and that is wrong. He's never played for me, never really spoken to me, so he really doesn't know what I stand for.
"If I were Curt, I would be really embarrassed at the cheap shot he took and get the story correct. I'll tell you I've always admired his pitching ability and competitiveness, but I can honestly tell you I've lost a lot of respect for him. I'm looking forward to talking to Curt myself and get this matter cleared up," he said.
Piniella later said he had Tampa Bay's traveling secretary call Boston's traveling secretary to try to get a hold of Schilling. Piniella said had yet to hear from Schilling before the Devil Rays-Blue Jays game.
"I was told Curt was going to call," Piniella said. "I'll he happy to pick up the phone if that's what it takes."
Boston's game against Baltimore was rained out Wednesday afternoon. Earlier in the day, the Red Sox said Schilling will miss at least two weeks with a bone bruise on his surgically repaired right ankle. Schilling hurt himself while pitching Saturday at Tampa Bay on Saturday.
Piniella and Devil Rays pitchers Lance Carter and Dewon Brazelton were ejected Sunday, as were Boston manager Terry Francona, starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo and outfielder Trot Nixon. The ejections in the seventh inning followed a sequence of inside pitches and the two scuffles.
Tampa Bay starter Scott Kazmir and Piniella were ejected from a game last September after Kazmir hit Manny Ramirez and Kevin Millar in a span of four pitches. That came one inning after Arroyo hit two batters.
Piniella disputed Schilling's claims in the statement.
"He talks about making our players tough guys. Well, we do that quite well here but we don't do it by advocating fighting or throwing at opposing hitters. I don't know how many meetings I have had with my pitching coach on this subject," Piniella said.
"The problem is, Curt has a short memory. He doesn't remember when he was a young pitcher. We have a lot of young pitchers here and they're trying to learn to pitch at the big league level. Our kids are learning to pitch inside and they have to do that to survive up here. Nobody here wants anyone hit, believe me," he said.
After Tampa Bay's game against Toronto, Piniella went off on a TV reporter when he was asked about his dispute with Schilling.
Asked if Tampa Bay's recent beanings are a reflection on him, Piniella said sternly: "Why is it going to reflect on me? I don't throw the balls. I don't throw them, I don't throw them and I don't order people getting hit, so it's not going to reflect on me."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press