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Monday, July 26, 2004
Updated: July 27, 3:26 PM ET
Yankees star: 'You have to protect yourself'

Associated Press

TORONTO -- New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez plans to appeal any suspension he might receive for his role in Saturday's brawl with the Boston Red Sox.

"Whatever it is I'm going to appeal it," Rodriguez said Monday. "When somebody attacks, you have to protect yourself."

Alex Rodriguez

Boston pitcher Bronson Arroyo hit Rodriguez with a pitch Saturday, prompting the AL MVP to stare at the mound as he moved slowly toward first base. Boston catcher Jason Varitek positioned himself in front of Rodriguez and the two began jawing before Varitek, still wearing his mask, pushed Rodriguez in the face.

The dugouts and bullpens emptied.

Rodriguez said that Varitek started the fight.

"What was said, from my half, was simply a rebut and a reply," Rodriguez said. "What was said under the mask was a lot greater."

Rodriguez said he merely stood up for himself.

"If someone challenges you like that, I'm going to stand up to it," he said.

Rodriguez still had a scrape on his right cheek before Monday night's game against Toronto.

Told that Varitek missed Sunday's game after he injured his wrist in the brawl, Rodriguez joked: "I'm stronger than I look. If you hit me, you'll break your wrist."

New York right-hander Tanyon Sturtze injured his right pinkie in the fight and will not make his scheduled start against Baltimore on Thursday. Sturtze will have an MRI in New York on Tuesday. He also has a 3-inch cut under his left ear.

With Mike Mussina and Kevin Brown on the disabled list, Jose Contreras, who struggled Sunday night in Boston, will be moved up to pitch on three days' rest Thursday against the Orioles.