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Emotions ran high late in Saturday’s game between the Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays. Blue Jays pitcher Génesis Cabrera got into a heated verbal exchange with Rays infielder José Caballero at the end of the seventh inning.

The three-day-old Major League Baseball season has now seen two scuffles over the past two days. Players spilled out of each dugout during Friday’s game between the Mets and Brewers, after Milwaukee’s Rhys Hoskins slid hard into second base during a double-play attempt.

Saturday’s altercation turned physical when Cabrera shoved Caballero, prompting both team’s benches to empty. Shortly before the confrontation, Caballero’s bunt single drove in a run. But, he continued around the bases after third baseman Justin Turner made a throwing error. Toronto outfielder George Springer ran down the errant throw and threw to the shortstop, who then tagged Caballero out at third base.

Cabrera, who was backing up third base, and Caballero came together as the play concluded and exchanged words. The confrontation ensued, although no punches were thrown. Cabrera was eventually ejected.


“I saw the ball in the bullpen and started running. The coach is waving at me to go to third. When I got to third, I see Bichette had the ball already, so I gave myself up. I’m kind of slowing down and Cabrera comes out of nowhere and kind of tags me. But there’s no play, I’m already out,” Caballero said. “I just asked him, why did you push me? He didn’t say a word. He just came up to me and pushed me again.”

Benches clear during MLB game

The dust-up came two innings after the Rays’ Randy Arozarena celebrated his solo homer by kissing his bat, doing a cross-arm pose and then signing autographs for fans after returning to the dugout.

“I will say it was more like the heat of the moment,” Cabrera said through a translator. “I mean, I think we all kind of overreact a little bit. I mean, he kind of looked at me and I just react. … It’s part of the game sometimes, but it’s over with. It’s where it ends, right there.”

Rays manager Kevin Cash thought Caballero handled the situation well by not doing anything to escalate the confrontation. “Both teams didn’t let it get out of hand,” Cash said.

Blue Jays manager John Schneider agreed. “It was handled really well by everyone, umpires and Tampa, and us,” Schneider said. “It was kind of just one of those things where it just kind of happened and they issued warnings and everyone was fine with that.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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