Jays take exception to A-Rod's antics
Verbal deke helps game get away from Toronto in ninth
TORONTO -- Plenty of Blue Jays took the route of "no comment" on Wednesday night when approached about the latest controversy involving Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez. Toronto manager John Gibbons wasn't one of them.
Sitting inside his office at Rogers Centre, Gibbons had plenty of kind words for the Yankees organization, but few for A-Rod. After all, a crucial ninth-inning play, in which Rodriguez appeared to confuse Toronto third baseman Howie Clark on a would-be inning-ending fly out, wound up costing the Jays three runs in a 10-5 loss to New York.
"One thing you know about the Yankees, one of the reasons they're so respected, is they do things right," Gibbons said. "They always have. They have a lot of pride and a lot of class. They play the game hard. That's not Yankee pride right there. That's not the way they play. I thought it was bush league."
The incident took place with two outs in the final inning, when the Jays were behind, 7-5. Yankees catcher Jorge Posada stepped in to face Jays rookie right-hander Brian Wolfe with Rodriguez on first base and Hideki Matsui on second. With the count at 3-2, the runners were in motion when Posada lifted a pitch from the reliever high in the air toward third base.
Clark, who was called up from Triple-A Syracuse on Wednesday, camped under the ball, preparing to end the threat. As Rodriguez ran behind Clark on his way to third, he yelled out and the third baseman immediately pulled up, thinking Toronto shortstop John McDonald was calling for the ball. The baseball dropped to the turf, allowing Matsui to score.
"I was under the fly ball and I thought I was called off," said the 33-year-old Clark. "It wasn't Johnny Mac. I let it drop. I was under it and I heard a 'Mine' call, so I let it go.
"This is my 16th season -- granted, most of them are in the Minor Leagues -- but that's never happened once. It happened tonight."
The typically softspoken McDonald barked at Rodriguez, who stood on third base and could be seen occasionally smirking as Gibbons came on to the field to discuss the play with the umpires. After the game, McDonald declined to go into specifics about what took place as Rodriguez ran between he and Clark.
"That's not really something I want to comment on," McDonald said. "I think it'd probably be better to look at the video to see, because I'm not exactly sure. You guys can draw the conclusion just from seeing the replay."
Television replays, which featured slow-motion close-ups of Rodriguez's face, clearly showed him shouting something out as he ran directly behind Clark. It appeared as though he yelled, "Mine," which is what Clark indicated he heard. Rodriguez had a different version of the story altogether.
"I was actually almost past third base [when I yelled]. I was surprised the ball dropped," Rodriguez said. "In a situation like that -- that play happens to me three or four times a week, except it's not at third base -- [it's] over by the dugout, foul territory. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't."
Yankees manager Joe Torre added that he wasn't sure if Rodriguez tried to make it sound like he was calling off Clark, or if he simply shouted out as he sprinted toward third base.
"I don't know what to feel," Torre said. "It's baseball. It's not like he said, 'I got it.' He didn't say that. He just made a noise. When catchers come over to the opposite dugout, everyone's saying, 'I got it, I got it, I got it.'"
Rodriguez even went as far as comparing the play to Toronto second baseman Aaron Hill's successful steal of home during the Jays' 3-2 win Tuesday.
"[The intention was] to win a game. We're desperate," Rodriguez said. "[On Tuesday] they made a great play stealing home. They did some great things yesterday, and I tip my cap to them. It's something that'll be unique -- something you don't see every day. Those guys have their opinion and our guys have ours. I'm fine with that."
Regardless of what Rodriguez and Torre said, the players inside Toronto's clubhouse weren't happy at all with what took place. Blue Jays third baseman Troy Glaus, who sat out with a sore left hamstring, was quick to say he'd have some choice words for a teammate that pulled the same stunt.
"You'd have to," said Glaus, who added that he had never seen a similar incident in his 10 big-league seasons. "You'd have to discuss and talk to him why that's not a good thing -- why that's not appropriate.
"Not since I think 'Major League 2,' the movie [have I seen something like that]," he added with a laugh. "I've never heard of someone doing it and I've never seen anybody do it. I've never had it happen to me. It's disappointing. That's not proper."
Toronto was especially disappointed because of what happened next. After Posada advanced to second on defensive indifference, Yankees designated hitter Jason Giambi drilled a pitch from Wolfe up the middle for two more New York runs. Essentially, the play turned a two-run deficit into a five-run hole for the Jays.
"I don't get angry all that much," McDonald said. "It's unfortunate that us not making that play led to a few more runs and kind of put it out of reach for us in the ninth inning."
Rodriguez is no stranger to on-field controversy, either.
In Game 6 of the 2004 American League Championship Series against the Red Sox, Rodriguez swatted a ball out of Boston pitcher Bronson Arroyo's glove during a play at first base. Earlier this month, Rodriguez threw a left elbow at Boston's Dustin Pedroia after the second baseman had already relayed a throw during a double play.
"Who it is doesn't really matter," Glaus said. "It's just the fact that something like that happened. It's disappointing."
Gibbons wasn't sure what the basis of his argument was when he headed onto the field, except to say that he didn't think it was right to do what Rodriguez had done. The baseball rulebook has plenty of guidelines for interference calls, but it doesn't specifically cover any of the verbal variety.
"Maybe I'm naive, but I haven't seen that before," Gibbons said. "I don't even know if there's anything you can do -- maybe some kind of interference kind of thing. I don't know what the rulebook says. I've never seen that happen.
"The Yankees have always done things right, so that surprised me."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.