Barrett, Zambrano fined for scuffle
Both players in Cubs dugout on Saturday
CHICAGO -- Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano shouldered the blame for the dugout skirmish with Michael Barrett that escalated into a fight in the clubhouse and resulted in six stitches in the catcher's lip and fines for both players.
"It's all my fault, that's all I can say," Zambrano said Saturday. "I feel bad for that because I have to be in control of myself. I was frustrated, we had a little discussion and it went into a fight. Like I said, It's all my fault."
Barrett was not in the lineup Saturday, and his face was scratched and puffy from the fight. However, he was available to play.
Neither player had talked to each other before meeting with the media Saturday.
"I told them to let this thing cool off for a day or two, and then we'll get them both in my office and we'll talk," said Cubs manager Lou Piniella, who issued the fines. "We'll either get this thing done [Sunday] or for sure in Milwaukee on Monday."
"We're definitely on the same page," Barrett said. "Things happen. Things are unfortunate. We had our differences yesterday. Today we're on the same page and we're ready to play."
In the fifth inning of Friday's game against the Atlanta Braves, a run scored on a combination passed ball and throwing error by Barrett. The Braves would eventually score five runs that inning. When the inning ended, Zambrano confronted Barrett in the dugout, and the pitcher pointed to his own head. There was a shoving match, and the players had to be separated.
Zambrano was escorted into the clubhouse and Barrett was supposed to stay in the game. But he went into the clubhouse, too, where the two were involved in a fight. Barrett had to go to a local hospital for treatment.
"I told him, 'Are you out of your mind?' That was what I told him," Zambrano said of his message to Barrett when he pointed to his head.
However, that was all either player would reveal about the fracas.
"Whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas," Zambrano said. "I don't have to say what happened in the clubhouse."
Why did Barrett go into the clubhouse?
"Everybody wants to know that," Barrett said. "I've known Carlos for 3 1/2 years. Carlos and I have had differences in the past and we've always come together. We've had it out on the mound, we've had it out in the dugout before. That's what teammates do sometimes.
"I went down in the clubhouse to talk through things because [the dugout incident] came unexpected," he said. "I wanted to clear my mind, clear my head, so I could go out and concentrate and focus on the game.
"I underestimated what he was going through," Barrett said. "I love Carlos. I know he feels the same about me. I never thought it would've came to that, but we move on."
Zambrano is an emotional player, as is Barrett, as evidenced by his run-in last year with White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski.
"This is something that happened, was spontaneous, wasn't planned, wasn't premeditated," Piniella said. "It was just frustrations that built up. Just let it go, and forget about it. The only thing we don't want is any continuation because if that's the case, we're going to have to suspend these players and we don't want to do that."
Zambrano's next start is scheduled for Wednesday in Milwaukee. Piniella said Koyie Hill, who was added to the roster Friday because Henry Blanco has a herniated disc, will likely catch Zambrano, and not Barrett.
The Cubs have not played up to expectations this season, and Zambrano's actions were believed to be more out of frustration than anger at Barrett.
"Me, personally, I think it happened because Zambrano and I are so close," Barrett said. "I think of Zambrano as a brother. You have sibling rivalry. I grew up with an older brother, and we had our differences, and we had it out a time or two. At the end of the day, we shook it off, we hugged one another and loved one another."
Zambrano said he has a good relationship with Barrett, and that before the White Sox series in May, Barrett helped him with a family problem.
"I appreciated that," Zambrano said.
Was there a crossup on the signs, which resulted in Barrett missing the pitch?
"All the things that happened in the clubhouse, on the field, what I told Michael, guys, I'm sorry, I can't tell you," Zambrano said. "It's not fair for him, it's not fair for me. It's too many distractions, it's too many bad things that happened. If I open my mouth and say something bad, it's going to be worse. I don't want this to be worse. I want this to be resolved."
Both players felt the incident could make the team stronger.
"We'll learn from this," Barrett said. "The one thing we'll learn from this is that we will no longer fight ourselves, and that by fighting together and playing baseball and focusing on the right things will make us stronger.
"A character guy like Zambrano, a passionate guy like he is, a passionate guy like I am, it just happened to get really heated," Barrett said. "Zambrano knows how I feel about him. He knows how much I care about him and how much I care about the game."
Anger management isn't the answer. Piniella wasn't even sure what that was. In all of his years as a manager and player, including his stints with the volatile New York Yankees and manager Billy Martin, anger management was never brought up.
"I think the only person who can control my emotions is God," Zambrano said. "I have to build my relationship with God and make it stronger. He's the only one who can control me. I come from a family, and my dad is like I am. I think it's in my blood."
Zambrano did slap and shove Barrett in the dugout. It was uncertain whether he threw any hard rights at the catcher in the clubhouse.
"They weren't all jabs, I can tell you that," Piniella said. "Look, these things happen. You don't want them to happen but they do happen. They happen on other teams. This is not peculiar just to the Chicago Cubs. In the heat of battle things do happen.
"The important thing is we learn from this and there's no continuation," he said. "Does it help or hurt? I'd rather have a little wildfire than no fire at all. You don't want to see teammates fight. There was some emotion shown. The important thing here is that nobody was seriously hurt."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.