TORONTO The dispute between Cincinnati Reds outfielder Adam Dunn and Toronto Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi took a strange twist Tuesday.
Last week, Ricciardi criticized Dunn on a Toronto radio station, accusing the slugger of lacking passion for the game.
"We've done our homework on guys like Adam Dunn and there's a reason why we don't want Adam Dunn," Ricciardi responded to a caller asking about trade rumors. "I don't want to get into specifics."
After reading a transcript of the remarks, Dunn shot back, calling Ricciardi a "clown sitting in the front office pushing paper."
Ricciardi later apologized and tried to contact Dunn through Reds GM Walt Jocketty.
Before the Reds played at Toronto Tuesday, Ricciardi said he had taken a call from Dunn on Saturday and apologized for starting the furor. Asked later about the call, Dunn denied it had taken place.
"If he said he talked to me, it's a lie," Dunn said.
Ricciardi believes he may have been the victim of a prank.
UMPIRE HIT BY BROKEN BAT: Plate umpire Brian O'Nora was hit in the head by a shattered piece of Miguel Olivo's broken bat, forcing him out of Tuesday night's game between the Colorado Rockies and Kansas City Royals.
O'Nora was injured in the bottom of the second inning when Olivo's bat broke on a groundout to shortstop. The umpire walked over to the corner of Kansas City's dugout, where he was treated by Royals trainer Nick Swartz and led down the tunnel.
WILLINGHAM BACK IN FLORIDA LINEUP: Josh Willingham was standing at his locker Tuesday afternoon when someone walked by and asked what it was like for him to miss the past six weeks.
"Eight weeks," Willingham quickly corrected.
Not like the Florida Marlins' left fielder was counting.
After missing 50 games with a herniated disk in his back, Willingham made his long-awaited return to the Marlins' lineup Tuesday night for the start of a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Willingham, who was in his customary cleanup spot, was hitting .341 with six home runs and 16 RBIs when the oft-problematic back flared up on April 28. He hadn't played for the Marlins since.
"It's been a long process," Willingham said. "Been frustrating, but I'm back in the lineup and hopefully I can do something to help the team win."
Also Tuesday, the Marlins recalled catcher Paul Hoover from Albuquerque and sent catcher Mike Rabelo to Triple-A. Hoover, like Willingham, was in Tuesday's starting lineup.
YOUKILIS SENT TO EYE SPECIALIST: Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis has been sent to an eye specialist after getting hit in the face by a one-hop throw in practice, and will sit out Tuesday night's game against Arizona.
The 2007 American League Gold Glove winner was struck under the right eye Monday night by Mike Lowell's throw during infield warmups.
Youkilis arrived at Fenway Park on Tuesday afternoon with his eye swollen and watering. A CT scan on his face Monday night was negative.
Boston manager Terry Francona said he hopes Youkilis will be back in the lineup Wednesday.
SMOLTZ KEEPING COMEBACK HOPES WARM: John Smoltz is keeping his right arm numb and his hopes for a comeback warm.
Smoltz, who had season-ending shoulder surgery on June 10, spoke Tuesday while wearing a compression sleeve that keeps his arm a frigid 32 degrees. He's happy with the high-tech device which he said allowed him to sleep for five hours his longest yet on Monday night while cutting back on pain medication.
Smoltz said he's not yet able to watch games from the dugout because he's worried about having to make a sudden move and hit the arm. He hopes to be out of the sling, and back in the dugout, by the All-Star game.
Smoltz hopes to know more about his hopes for a comeback during the next few months. His doctors have said he can begin throwing within four months.