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Carlos Silva-Aramis Ramirez fight shakes up Cubs’ spring

Carlos Silvpitches first inning Wednesday before making remarks thriled teammate Aramis Ramirez resulting dugout altercation.  |  Morry Gash~AP

Carlos Silva pitches in the first inning Wednesday before making remarks that riled teammate Aramis Ramirez, resulting in a dugout altercation. | Morry Gash~AP

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Updated: July 14, 2011 12:15AM



MARYVALE, Ariz. — Camp Tranquility under new manager Mike Quade turned into Camp Turmoil in the span of one inning in the fourth game of spring training Wednesday when Carlos Silva and Aramis Ramirez fought in the dugout after a three-error first inning.

No punches appeared to be thrown, and the two were separated quickly. But where it goes from here is the bigger issue — and the biggest test yet for Quade in his first year managing in the big leagues.

Whether it’s 14 errors in four games or teammates fighting in the dugout, it’s certain to be widely viewed as a reflection on the manager.

‘‘Well, we’re going to find out, aren’t we?’’ Quade said. ‘‘I’ve been thrilled to death with the way camp’s gone. I haven’t been happy with the way the games have gone. And I do like piss and vinegar, and I’m glad guys are getting irritated, but we’ve got to channel it in the right direction, and no time like the present.’’

Quade’s wait-and-see-for-a-week plan was trash-canned Wednesday in favor of a team meeting he plans to call today to talk about the Silva-Ramirez incident, as well as four days of sloppiness and lapses.

Silva, who by several accounts started the scuffle by jawing about the errors behind him in the first inning — including a dropped pop-up by Ramirez — won’t be disciplined, Quade said, and Ramirez said he already has put the ‘‘misunderstanding’’ behind him.

‘‘Maybe that’s what we freaking need,’’ Quade said. ‘‘Maybe we need to get pissed off. [A 12-5 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday] was really tough to watch, and it hasn’t been fun to begin with. Guys get upset. We handle it in-house. I don’t think anything comes of it at all.’’

Maybe. But don’t count on this ­being the last time something like this happens, if recent history means anything.

‘‘That’s part of the game,’’ Ramirez said. ‘‘[Quade’s] got to get used to it. That happens everywhere. It’s a long season. It’s going to happen. It’s not always going to be [perfect].’’

Just ask Lou Piniella and Dusty Baker before him.

From Sammy Sosa walking out on the team at the end of the 2004 season to Michael Barrett punching A.J. Pierzynski in a 2006 Cubs-Sox game to Carlos Zambrano punching Barrett during a game the next season to Milton Bradley’s ‘‘piece of sh—’’ moment in 2009 to Zambrano’s dugout tirade last June at U.S. Cellular Field . . . you get the idea.

And that’s the point. While Quade and players downplayed the incident Wednesday, nobody in baseball in at least the last five years has had more high-profile meltdowns and in-fighting than the Cubs.

Here’s your flak jacket, Q.

‘‘Look, these are things that you don’t like, that you don’t want,’’ Quade said. ‘‘You want things to go real smooth. Well, it doesn’t all the time. And I’d almost rather [have] that, to be honest, than complacency. And there’s a point where this kind of thing goes overboard as well.

‘‘There’s plenty of blame to go around in the four games, be it pitching or defense. . . . But if we start getting after each other in this manner on a regular basis, then we’re done.’’

General manager Jim Hendry said he’s confident in Quade handling the Silva incident as well as the early problems on the field.

‘‘I’m not worried about it at all,’’ Hendry said. ‘‘Mike Quade will have the team ready to play long before Opening Day, and I’m confident it won’t be an issue.’’

Whether the scuffle is viewed as a reflection on Quade, ‘‘it shouldn’t,’’ said catcher Koyie Hill, whose catcher’s interference wiped out an inning-ending double play in the first. ‘‘Quade does a great job. If two guys get into it, is that his fault? He’ll be all right.’’

But what happens next will tell that story.

The incident initially recalled Zambrano’s rant last June, a comparison Quade called ‘‘ridiculous.’’

Quade said Silva, who wasn’t sharp and gave up two home runs in the inning, was frustrated ‘‘and made a general comment defensively.’’

‘‘I think Rami took issue with it,’’ Quade said. ‘‘Rami had a bad inning, and he knew Silva was upset and decided to tell him, ‘Hey, I don’t need to hear that.’ It’s an unfortunate deal, but, again, it’s not going to be a big deal.’’

Silva didn’t return to the mound after the first because of the extra length of his work in that single inning, Quade said. After running on a back field for a few minutes with the strength coach, he showered, dressed and refused multiple media interview requests before leaving the ballpark. A Cubs spokesman said Silva was ‘‘not in the right frame of mind to talk.’’

The whole thing had Brewers players joking in the other clubhouse. Starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo said he wasn’t paying attention to the incident because ‘‘I was only fighting myself [on the mound].’’

For all the Cubs’ downplaying of the incident, it’s especially conspicuous and embarrassing if only because of the date.

‘‘I’m very surprised,’’ teammate Alfonso Soriano said. ‘‘It’s only four games in spring training and we’re fighting each other. They need to talk to get everything back to normal. I hope they talk. . . .

‘‘We don’t need that. We’ve got a lot of pressure in Chicago with the fans and media. We don’t need that.’’

And Zambrano doesn’t even pitch until today.



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