Cubs on benches-clearing incident with Pirates: 'We're not here to fight'


Cubs on benches-clearing incident with Pirates: 'We're not here to fight'

Think it's safe to say the Cubs-Pirates rivalry is heating up?

Tony Watson's first pitch to Jake Arrieta hit the Cubs ace right on the hip.

Arrieta immediately started barking at the Pittsburgh Pirates lefty and just like that, it was on.

In the span of about 60 seconds, the bullpens were emptied and the entire roster of both teams had spilled onto the field at PNC Park.

[MORE CUBS: On to the next one: Schwarber, Cubs dismantle Pirates in wild-card game]

After Chris Coghlan's takeout slide eliminated Jung Ho Kang from the playoff race in the final month of the season, these two teams now have this benches-clearing incident on their resume heading into next season, when both squads will be trying to contend in the toughest division in baseball while squaring off head-to-head 19 times once again.

"It just happened so fast," Cubs catcher David Ross said. "I don't think anybody even thought about it. We're out there just protecting our guys.

"(Arrieta) hit two guys — on accident, in my opinion. It's a hostile environment and sometimes tempers flare."

Arrieta buzzed Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli to lead off the fifth inning, the ball barely grazing Cervelli's finger on the way past. Hard to imagine Arrieta was trying to put the leadoff guy on base when his team had just extended his lead to 4-0.

The second hit-by-pitch came on a breaking ball and a runner on base as Arrieta hit Josh Harrison to bring up Andrew McCutchen with only one out in the sixth inning.

Arrieta said he expected to get hit in the seventh inning, understanding Watson was just protecting his teammates. But Arrieta also made sure to preach his innocence — saying he never threw at the Pirates intentionally — and said everybody got caught up in the heat of the moment.

"(It's) the playoffs. There's a lot at stake," Arrieta said. "Tempers are running hot and it is what it is. It's just the environment. It breeds that kind of intensity and sometimes those things happen.

"At the end of the day, I have a tremendous amount of respect for those guys, regardless of what happened in that game."

[MORE CUBS: Guaranteed: Jake Arrieta silences Pirates, delivers wild-card win for Cubs]

As Arrieta stared down Watson and Pirates players started entering the fray, Cubs players like Ross and Kyle Schwarber got right on the front lines where Pirates infielder Sean Rodriguez was throwing some haymakers.

Rodriguez came close to landing a punch on Ross, but the veteran catcher confirmed he wasn't hit.

"I'm trying to just get everything calmed down," Ross said. "Because I don't want anybody messing with (our pitcher), the guy that's dominating the game. I don't know if that was their tactic or not.

"But that's a good ballclub. We're not here to fight those guys. That's not what we came here to do. Unfortunately, it got a little ugly for a minute."

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle didn't go so far as to say Arrieta was intentionally throwing at his guys, but he and the Pirates didn't sit well with the pitch to Cervelli.

"You've got a pitcher that's dotting everything up, throwing four pitches for strikes and Cervelli gets pitched hot up top, so I don't think anybody was a fan of that," Hurdle said. "Josh got hit with a breaking ball; that's probably just a pitch that got away."

Cubs manager Joe Maddon launched into a tirade at Wrigley Field last month when he felt like the St. Louis Cardinals were throwing at Cubs players intentionally.

He didn't take the same stance Wednesday, refusing to let the one incident mask his team's victory.

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"I have nothing but respect for the Pirate organization, always have," Maddon said. "I was a Roberto Clemente fan growing up.

"So regarding anything that you thought may have been inappropriate tonight, you guys — and ladies — be the judge of that."

Podcast: In light of recent hitting coach turmoil, who’s to blame for Cubs offensive struggles?


Podcast: In light of recent hitting coach turmoil, who’s to blame for Cubs offensive struggles?

On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, David Kaplan, Kelly Crull, Luke Stuckmeyer and Tony Andracki discuss the comments Chili Davis made after being fired as Cubs hitting coach, ask if the Cubs struggles on offense were Davis' fault or the players and what Anthony Iapoce will be walking into as he tries to gets the team back on track a the plate.


Listen to the entire podcast here, or in the embedded player below:


Texas Rangers hire Cubs' Shiraz Rehman to be assistant GM

Texas Rangers hire Cubs' Shiraz Rehman to be assistant GM

The changing of the guard continues for the Cubs this offseason. 

After the team hired a new hitting coach yesterday, it was reported today that they're losing a front office member: 

Rehman, who has been with the Cubs in the same position for the last seven years, will reportedly head up the Rangers' analytics department. According to the Chicago Tribune, Rehman's role was " evaluating existing systems, and recognizing and applying solutions in an effort to create competitive advantages for the organization." 

All reports indicate that he'll be doing similar analytic-based work with the Rangers.