Friday, March 14, 2008
Updated: March 15, 10:58 AM ET
Duncan, Gomes, Cabrera suspended; Girardi fined
TAMPA, Fla. -- The shenanigans between the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays will leave them short-handed.
Yankees first baseman Shelley Duncan and center fielder Melky Cabrera were suspended for three games and Tampa Bay outfielder Jonny Gomes two games Friday following the latest dustup this week.
"I sure hope we can put this fire out," Gomes said.
The penalties will begin at the start of the regular season, unless they're appealed. All three players were fined, as were Yankees manager Joe Girardi, third-base coach Bobby Meacham and hitting coach Kevin Long.
Major League Baseball imposed the suspensions -- rare for exhibitions -- and took an even more unusual step: It changed the umpire assignments for a spring training game because of brewing trouble.
Determined to stop the Yankees and Rays from turning Saturday's split-squad rematch into a split-lip affair, veteran crew chief Jerry Crawford was added to the original three-man crew.
"Why should we anticipate something?" Yankees captain Derek Jeter said. "So it happens for the next 19 games we play them? No. Why would it linger on? Why would you continue to do it? If something happens, it would be stupid. It gets to a point where it's got to end."
Girardi wasn't worried, either.
"I'm sure that there will be a warning tomorrow. I'm sure it will be something in the umpire's room," he said.
The feud began last Saturday after a Rays prospect plowed into Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli, breaking his wrist. On Wednesday, Duncan made a spikes-high slide that led to the benches clearing, and Gomes rushed in from right field to barrel into him.
Gomes will be part of the Rays' split squad traveling Saturday to play Atlanta. Duncan will stay at Legends Field for the game against Tampa Bay.
"I will not try to get into another team's clubhouse and tell anybody else what to do," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I just know from my perspective I thought it was right to keep Jon out of that game tomorrow and let things settle down a bit."
"With the intensity of the situation, it's a little bit too hot and I want it to just cool down," he said.
Maddon will manage the game against the Yankees.
"They perpetrated the entire situation, and then to have the punishment doled out almost on a similar basis, to me is unjust and it's not right," he said.
Gomes said he was fined $2,000. He has not decided whether to appeal.
"I've got no problem going to Orlando just to let things simmer down," he said. "I wouldn't take back what I did. I've gotten a lot of positive feedback from other players in the major leagues via text message."
"I just went in for an old-fashioned forearm shimmy and just grabbed the guy," he said.
Duncan said he's not sure whether he'll appeal.
"I really haven't had much time to really analyze it," he said. "Initially, I feel it is pretty unfair.
"After the incident with Cervelli, I was asked a question. For some reason people assumed I made retaliatory remarks, which I never did."
Tampa Bay and New York meet 18 times during the regular season, starting April 4 at Yankee Stadium.
While the Rays have never come close to New York in the standings, they often play the Yankees tough. The trouble brewed up last weekend when the Rays' Elliot Johnson crashed into Cervelli.
Duncan took exception to the collision and responded four days later with a hard slide into Rays second baseman Akinori Iwamura. Maddon called the play "borderline criminal."
"Did his spikes go up a little high? Yes, they did," Girardi said Friday. "You don't want to try to hurt anyone, and I believe Shelley wasn't trying to hurt him."
"Probably rubs some people the wrong way because of the way he plays so hard. But he doesn't rub us the wrong way," he said. "I don't think it's such an incident if there wasn't the hype. It became an incident because of all the rhetoric during the past five to six days."
The Rays claimed Cabrera punched third baseman Evan Longoria during a pileup.
"Obviously I read Melky's comment saying he didn't do anything. Obviously, the commissioner's office saw something different," Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said.