Skippers spar over signs, and benches clear

Skippers spar over signs, and benches clear

SAN DIEGO -- Benches cleared and tempers flared during Friday night's 10-4 Dodgers victory at Petco Park, in which Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts went after Padres skipper Andy Green during a meeting with umpires before the second inning.

The issue arose in the bottom of the first when Dodgers starter Alex Wood chirped at Jose Pirela, who was on second base. Both benches were warned, and when the inning ended, crew chief Sam Holbrook and home-plate umpire Greg Gibson called a conference with the two skippers in foul territory. That's when things got heated.

Speaking to a pool reporter, Gibson said Wood told him, "If he gives away the signs again, I'm going to drill him." Gibson informed Green, who quickly grew animated. As umpires escorted him back to the dugout, Green got in one last verbal jab, and Roberts clearly took issue. He bolted toward Green and made contact, sending Green stumbling backward. Roberts had to be restrained as both benches cleared.

"The No. 1 thing I took issue with was the threat on the mound from their pitcher to our player that he was going to drill him -- with some expletives mixed in," Green said. "Colorfully telling a guy you're going to hit a guy on the field -- it's unacceptable. And I don't think there's anyone on our club that's going to tolerate that."

Green, Roberts on altercation

Said Roberts: "There were some things that Andy directed at our player, and at some point I took exception. So I thought it was excessive, and I got emotional. As an opposing manager, to talk about the situation and agree or disagree with how the umpires handle it -- that's his opinion. But when you start pointed comments about a player, then I think I've got a problem with it."

Only minor shoving ensued as the teams converged. Roberts and Green were ejected.

After the game, Wood, who pitched six innings of one-run ball, denied that he had threatened to hit Pirela. He added that he couldn't remember their conversation, because he "was seeing red," though he acknowledged frustration at the belief Pirela was giving away the location of his pitches to Manuel Margot.

"2-1 changeup, and [catcher Austin] Barnes set up away early," said Wood, now the first Dodger to open a season 9-0 since Rick Rhoden in 1976. "I watched the runner, and it was so obvious. I just thought he was giving location. I reacted and got caught up in the moment."

Wood on 1st-inning altercation

Pirela emphatically denied stealing locations or signs from Barnes (who recorded his first career multi-homer game and drove in seven). Pirela, whose English is limited, said he initially wasn't sure why Wood was upset.

"I didn't know what he said, and at first I didn't even really think he was talking to me," Pirela said. "His attitude, his reactions, they were surprising. ... For him to think I was at second giving signs, that was surprising. I don't think it made any sense in any way."

Pirela on altercation with Wood

After Gibson had spoken with Wood, he called all four umpires together in front of the mound. They promptly issued warnings to both teams, but did not allow either manager onto the field in protest.

The inning continued, and Pirela was stranded at second base when Yasiel Puig made a brilliant sliding catch. (Puig, being Puig, followed that up by planting a smooch on the baseball).

Puig kisses ball after grab

Roberts on incident vs. Padres

The two skippers, however, weren't in such a loving mood. Green was initially left unaware as to the reasoning behind the warnings. When Gibson told him what he'd heard from Wood, Green fumed.

"He wasn't stealing signs at all," Green said. "He wasn't doing it. Now, if they're frustrated with stealing signs, change your signs."

Green on altercation, loss

In the middle of the fray was Padres bench coach Mark McGwire (who found himself in the middle of a similar fracas between the Los Angeles and Arizona coaching staffs in 2013 when he served as Dodgers hitting coach). McGwire praised Green afterward.

"Andy was awesome," McGwire said. "That's what you do. That's just a common sense thing. You protect your own."

Said Padres starter Clayton Richard: "We're not going to take lightly to someone saying they're going to throw at one of our guys. To me, that's kind of fake tough to threaten to throw at anybody."

Richard played under Roberts, who spent six seasons on the Padres' coaching staff with then-manager Bud Black. When the managerial job became open during the 2015-16 offseason, Roberts did not receive an interview, as the Padres opted for Green instead.

Shortly thereafter, Roberts landed the Los Angeles job and earned major accolades in a successful first season at the helm.

"Doc's one of the best guys in baseball," Richard said. "And he's in a situation where he has to defend his guys. But as for what he did, that was definitely out of character."

Friday marked the first ejection of the season for Roberts and his third since he took the helm in Los Angeles. It was Green's second ejection this year and his fourth overall.

It's also the second straight night benches have cleared in a Dodgers game. On Thursday in Anaheim, Angels third baseman Yunel Escobar took issue with a plunking from Dodgers reliever Brandon Morrow. An exchange of words followed, but little else came of that situation.

This incident, however, could potentially have a lingering effect in the form of a suspension or fine for Roberts.

"I haven't really thought about it," Roberts said. "I'm sure they'll do what they feel is best. Yeah, I did initiate contact with Andy. It was more trying to get his attention and let him know I didn't appreciate some of his parting comments.

"I probably got too emotional. But we all care about our players, and when things are said about your player, you get a little more sensitive about it. So, I probably could have handled it differently."

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.