PITTSBURGH — Padre center fielder Stan Jefferson had to be restrained by six of his teammates Wednesday night, because he was about to fight his manager, Larry Bowa.
According to eyewitnesses, Bowa and Jefferson were nose-to-nose after Wednesday night's 9-5 loss to Pittsburgh, and Jefferson bumped Bowa with his chest.
And so it goes in Padre-land, where nobody's safe anymore. The last-place Padres had a 5-2 lead entering the bottom of the sixth inning Wednesday, but reliever Craig Lefferts gave up a three-run home run to Barry Bonds and then balked in the winning run in the seventh inning.
Bowa, who says he wants to win more than he wants to sleep, had a team meeting afterward to chastise his pitchers, and Jefferson--a rookie acquired from the New York Mets this winter--got caught in the middle.
According to players, Bowa told his pitchers: "Are you as (terrible) as you look out there? . . . What I see is hanging breaking balls down the middle, hanging changeups down the middle."
Bowa then mentioned that certain players have been skipping pregame workouts, and he said Jefferson was one of them. Bowa said Jefferson had specifically missed Wednesday afternoon's early workout, and he wondered why. Jefferson said he didn't know he was supposed to attend.
Bowa started berating the pitchers again, and apparently thought Jefferson was smiling.
Bowa began shouting at him and Jefferson shouted back.
Bowa reportedly told Jefferson he was being fined $100 for missing Wednesday's early workout. Jefferson said he did not know about the workout, and the argument became even more heated. (Bowa later changed his mind about the fine.)
According to witnesses, Jefferson then bumped Bowa. Six Padres tried breaking it up--Kevin Mitchell, Tony Gwynn, Carmelo Martinez, Joey Cora, Marvell Wynne and batting coach Deacon Jones. They pushed Jefferson out the door, ran him down a long corridor to the Padre dugout and pinned him against the dugout wall. Shortstop Garry Templeton--the team captain--followed them outside along with reliever Goose Gossage and coaches Greg Riddoch and Harry Dunlop.
Jefferson was screaming at them all as they backed him into the wall. Eventually, they backed off, and he cooled off in the dugout for 10 minutes. He walked calmly with Jones and Mitchell to the Padre clubhouse. Everybody got dressed.
None of the Padres was saying much. Steve Garvey was asked to comment, and he said: "Not tonight." Rookie second baseman Joey Cora said: "Don't look at me." Templeton said: "Find somebody else to talk to." Cora even advised reporters not to approach Bowa.
"Use extreme caution," Cora said.
Bowa's office door was closed when reporters were allowed inside the clubhouse, but when a reporter knocked on his door, Bowa invited everybody in.
He was subdued. He admitted he had been angry at the pitchers. "It's a disease, and everyone of the pitchers is catching it," he said.
"We can't hold leads or catch the ball, and we always commit balks."
Eventually, Bowa talked about the Jefferson incident, but said it wasn't that big a deal.
"Put it this way," Bowa said, "it sounded a lot worse than it was."
Bowa said not a punch was thrown, and said the whole ordeal was a case of miscommunication.
According to Bowa, Jones was supposed to have told Jefferson to be at Wednesday's early workout. Jones says he told Jefferson during batting practice Tuesday night, but Jefferson swears he doesn't remember ever being told. So Bowa says he won't fine Jefferson the $100.
"I verified it," Bowa said. "Nobody told him (Jefferson). . . . He's a very temperamental kid. He interpreted it (what Bowa said in the meeting) as I didn't think he was busting his butt. But he is busting his butt. He's one of the guys that is."
Jefferson didn't elaborate so much. Asked why he ended up in a shouting match with Bowa, he said: "I don't know. Just one of them things." Asked if that was an understatement, he said: "Yeah." Asked if he'd ever had a confrontation like that before, he shook his head and said: "I don't talk too much. I'm very quiet."
Then, he saw reporters writing down his answers and said: "You're actually going to write down this?"
He said he and Bowa would have a private meeting at a future date. Earlier this year, Bowa had questioned whether Jefferson wanted to play hurt on a sore ankle. So there's some history to Wednesday's confrontation.
Hindsight? Jones said there's an unwritten rule that all young players report to all early workouts. Jefferson, he said, should have known to be there.