- Adam Rubin, ESPN Staff Writer
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Francisco Rodriguez hit Mets nemesis Willie Harris with a cutter on the left forearm in the ninth inning Sunday, leading the dugouts and bullpens to empty onto the field. Tensions calmed without any punches being thrown. Afterward, Rodriguez suggested Harris said something to instigate the confrontation. Harris responded that he merely said an expletive to himself about getting hit with a pitch. He did not suggest K-Rod hit him on purpose.
Here's the reaction:
"All I was trying to do was make a pitch on the inside of the plate," K-Rod said. "It got away. And I just barely hit him. He just said a couple of words I didn’t like. That's pretty much why I reacted the way that I did. He was upset. It's pretty obviously the hitters don't really want to get hit. He said something. I took it in a bad way. That's why you guys saw what happened out there."
Asked more precisely about what made him so upset, Rodriguez replied: "I don't think I'm allowed to say that word right here. I didn't kind of like it. If he said that in frustration and he goes to first base without looking at me the way he did, I might grab the ball and go back to the mound. But the way he reacted, and the way he stared at me, Ididn't like."
Rodiguez said he hoped Harris didn't think the pitch was intentional, which turned out to be the case.
"No, I don't think he hit me on purpose," Harris said. "I think a ball just got away from him. I don't remember saying anything to him. I got hit, and I said some cuss words, but they were not directed to him. It was because it hurt. I was like: 'God-dangit!' or whatever it was. And I think he may have thought I was talking to him. So he said something to me, and that's when I said something back to him. But I don't think he hit me on purpose. Getting hit is part of the game."
Said Rodriguez: ""That's the last thing I want to do in that situation. You know, they've got a lot of hitters diving out there on the plate. Most of the time I go away. I was trying to make a pitch inside -- not make them feel too comfortable in the plate. They didn't seem to get upset kind of like that. But I've got to do my job. They're not going to take that away from me. I'm going to keep pitching inside. And if I hit 'em, I hit 'em. I didn't do anything on purpose."
As for the escalation with the benches clearing, Rodriguez said: "When you're in that situation, you pretty much snap. You're angry. You don't think. You just react to the situation. That's what I did. After the umpire grabbed me, everything went back to normal."
Harris, who had a game-saving catch on Rod Barajas to end Saturday's game and strand the bases loaded, acknowledged Rodriguez's reaction surprised him.
"Yeah. I mean, one thing about it, if you're going to chirp, just go ahead and fight," Harris said. "I ain't with all the talking. Like I said, I didn't direct anything toward him, and he said what he said to me, and that's why I said it back to him. It's a game. You're going to get hit. He's a man. I'm a man. If you've got a problem with me, do what you've got to do. That's all there is to it.
"I'm a man. If I feel like I'm wrong, I'll say I'm wrong. In that situation, I wasn't wrong. That's all there is to it."
14hJesse Rogers and Jerry Crasnick