Mariano Rivera: 'We're a family here'

Updated: May 13, 2013, 8:04 PM ET
By Wallace Matthews | ESPNNewYork.com

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The New York Yankees say they are one big happy family again, a day after middle reliever Joba Chamberlain publicly warned Mariano Rivera not to "shush'' him.

"We did talk,'' Rivera said Sunday morning. "It's good. Sometimes you have little things that we say that we don't mean. We're a family here. It's something that we take care of in house. Unfortunately it happened in front of you guys, but again, it shouldn't happen. We apologize and we move on.''

Chamberlain denied that he had apologized to Rivera -- "There's no need to apologize. For what?'' -- but said he and Rivera had "joked and laughed'' afterward.

"It's over with, it's done, it's really not an issue in the first place,'' Chamberlain said.

The incident happened in the visitors dugout shortly before Saturday night's game between the Yankees and the Kansas City Royals. Rivera, who was conducting an interview with a small group of reporters about his meeting earlier in the day with the family of a young boy killed in an airport accident, asked Chamberlain to lower his voice because he could not hear the questions being asked.

"Joba, yo, bro, bro,'' Rivera could be heard saying to Chamberlain on a tape of the interview played for ESPNNewYork.com.

"Suave,'' Rivera said, using the Spanish word for soft, while making a palms-down gesture with his hands, according to eyewitnesses.

"You do this every day,'' replied Chamberlain, who apparently was trying to talk to some family members in the stands near the Yankees dugout at the time. "I don't see my family every day.''

Rivera could be heard chuckling on the tape, and continued the interview. But afterward, he was approached by Chamberlain, who said, "Don't ever shush me again.''

According to witnesses, Rivera tried to laugh that off, too, but a stony-faced Chamberlain repeated, in tones that contained a hint of threat, "No, seriously. Don't ever shush me again.''

Sunday morning, the Yankees went out of their way to minimize the incident. A PR representative tweeted a photo of Chamberlain and Rivera, both smiling, with Chamberlain's arm draped over Rivera's shoulder, and the words, "Brothers don't shake hands, brothers gotta hug.''

And manager Joe Girardi, in his morning media briefing, insisted, "Everything's good,'' though he admitted he had yet to speak to either player.

"I think when you look at situations that happen, if people could do things differently, sometimes they would do it differently,'' Girardi said. "Sometimes things just happen and you kiss and make up and go on."

But Chamberlain, in a brief clubhouse interview with reporters, not only said that he had not apologized, but that given another chance, he would not have done anything differently Saturday night.

"I wouldn't change it,'' he said. "I wouldn't change anything I do in life.''

Chamberlain is on the 15-day disabled list with an oblique strain but traveled with the team to Denver and Kansas City before he begins a rehab assignment in Toledo on Tuesday.

Chamberlain was speaking so loudly that at one point, Rivera interrupted an answer to ask, jokingly, "Is he always this loud?''

On Sunday morning, Rivera likened the incident to a spat between brothers. "He's a good kid, man. He's a good kid,'' Rivera said. "Sometimes we all say things that we don't mean to say. It's the way it is, and I keep it like that. That doesn't make me angry because something like that happened. I'm the oldest here. I have to be the brother that has to keep the cool. It's good. We're all good. It's nothing. We'll move on."

Asked if he were angry, insulted or hurt by the way Chamberlain had spoken to him, Rivera said, "No, I'm better than that. When you're in the team or you're in the family for so long, you know the members of your family, you know what I mean? There's a lot of other things that I have to worry about. I'm better than that, guys, so thank you.''

Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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