Lilly-Gibbons confrontation leads to 'mayhem' in tunnel

8/22/2006 - MLB Ted Lilly Toronto Blue Jays + more

TORONTO -- Blue Jays manager John Gibbons tangled with Toronto pitcher Ted Lilly near the
dugout during Monday night's game against Oakland.

Unconfirmed reports said that Gibbons suffered a bloody nose during the exchange.

After the game, Lilly said to reporters, "There were no punches thrown, so I don't think John had a bloody nose. I don't know how that would have happened."

Lilly was pulled in the third inning, when the Athletics scored
seven runs to close to 8-7 on the way to a 12-10 win. Gibbons chewed out the pitcher, who
refused to give him the ball.

When Lilly left the mound for the locker room, Gibbons followed
him. A team trainer and a number of players then ran down the
stairs. Cameramen near the dugout saw Gibbons push Lilly first.

Canadian Press photographer Aaron Harris, one of a handful of
photographers to witness the skirmish, said Lilly was waiting for
Gibbons in the tunnel leading to the clubhouse.

"Gibbons just went at him," Harris said. "It looked like
Gibbons grabbed him and they disappeared. Then the whole dugout
emptied back there. It was mayhem down in the tunnel."

A television camera later showed Gibbons and the trainer wipe
the manager's nose with a towel.

"I overreacted, no question about that," Gibbons said Tuesday
during his weekly radio appearance on Fan 590. "I'm not proud of
that. That's not who I am. But I am a passionate guy. ... It
should never get to that point, but it did happen. I can't run from
that, I can't make excuses. I've got to live with it now.''

Lilly confirmed that the situation escalated quickly.

"We were on the verge of something regrettable happening. We
were yelling at each other face to face," he said.

Interviewed after the game, Gibbons declined to give details of the incident but said, "We've hashed all that out."

"He thought he should have been left in the game," Gibbons
said of Lilly. "I didn't think so."

Lilly said that his manager was not happy with how he was throwing.

"At a time I was already upset with myself, I didn't handle it well at the time. It wasn't very good, but this thing could have gone over a little better if I would have held my emotions."

Gibbons challenged Shea Hillenbrand to a fight in July after the
infielder wrote on the clubhouse bulletin board that the "ship was
sinking." Hillenbrand declined to fight, and was later traded to
San Francisco.

Hillenbrand had only kind words about Lilly when asked about the
altercation after the Giants' 5-0 win over Arizona in San

"Ted Lilly's a great guy. Ted Lilly's an intense competitor,"
Hillenbrand said. "He was a great teammate when I was over there.
So I'm surprised that confrontation happened with Ted Lilly."

He added: "Stuff like that's been going on all season over
there. I had my issues with the manager. ... They say I'm the
cancer of the team and things are still happening, so I don't know
how you can make that assumption or that statement. Things like
that begin to come out when times get tough."

Lilly has thought about his tenure with the team.

"Who knows how long I have left here," said Lilly, who is
eligible for free agency after this season. "Maybe a month. Maybe
longer. It was a bad day. I embarrassed the organization."

Team president Paul Godfrey didn't think Gibbons or Lilly needed
discipline. General manager J.P. Ricciardi didn't make himself

"My opinion is that it's a one-night skirmish," Godfrey said.
"I don't see any need for discipline. Ted and the manager worked
it out between them."

Oakland's Eric Chavez, who played with Lilly in Oakland, was surprised.

"It's a little strange to seen that happen," he said. "I liked Ted. He was a good teammate
when he was here."

Blue Jays outfielder Vernon Wells tried to downplay the brawl.

"Two guys were upset," he said. "It happens at home and it happens here. That's life. You just have to deal with it."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.