Benches clear at Trop after shove at third base

March 31st, 2024

ST. PETERSBURG -- It’s typically a compliment to say that a pitcher shoved. Well, not this time.

Toronto reliever was ejected from Saturday’s 5-1 Rays win over the Blue Jays after a sudden, two-handed shove to the face and neck of Tampa Bay's that caused both benches to clear.

Caballero had just been tagged out at third base, the end of a long journey after his bunt single was thrown down the right-field line by a charging Justin Turner. Cabrera was backing up the bag at third, and when Caballero took a couple of strides through the base, he and Cabrera bumped into one another.

Words were exchanged, which seemed to be initiated by Caballero, and right when it looked like the situation would calm, Cabrera shoved Caballero.

"It was more the heat of the moment. I think I kind of overreacted a little bit,” Cabrera said through a club interpreter. “He looked at me and I just reacted."

It seemed like the entire Blue Jays’ starting rotation appeared in an instant to pull Cabrera away while shortstop Bo Bichette first wrapped his arms around Caballero to separate the two and defuse the situation. As quickly as the two sides came together on the field, they retreated to their respective dugouts and there were no further flickers.


Génesis Cabrera: “It was emotions. Emotions. The heat of the moment. It’s part of the game sometimes, but it’s over with. It’s over. That’s where it ends, right there.”

José Caballero: “I'm just playing baseball. I try to have fun playing baseball. I enjoy what I do, and I don't want any problem with anyone. But situations always come, and I didn't want it to go farther than what it was. And unfortunately, he didn't think the same way. But that's all.”

Blue Jays manager John Schneider: “I think they just kind of ended up in each other’s way, for the most part, and it wasn’t really warranted, anything by anyone. As soon as someone puts their hands up, you defend yourself. There’s no history. There’s no bad blood. I thought the umpires did a good job. I thought Kevin [Cash] and his team did a good job. It was just the heat of the moment.”

Rays manager Kevin Cash: “A really good baseball play by Caballero. Picked us up in a big way. We really needed that run. And overall, just really impressed the way he carried himself. He handled himself really, really well. … Very encouraged and impressed, proud of the way Caballero handled it. Both teams didn't let it get out of hand.”


Given how quickly this de-escalated, and the comments from each manager praising how their clubs handled the moments that followed, this doesn’t feel like something that will spill into Sunday’s finale.

Cabrera said that he had “no idea” if he would be suspended after the game, adding that he had no prior relationship with Caballero and no bad blood.

“I hope not,” added Schneider. “It was handled really well by everyone, the umpires, Tampa [Bay] and us. I hope not. It was one of those things where it happened, they issued warnings and everyone was fine with that.”