Brawl ensues after A-Rod is hit by pitch

Updated: July 24, 2004, 11:24 PM ET
Associated Press

BOSTON -- The Yankees-Red Sox rivalry is heating up again, and Alex Rodriguez is still in the middle of it.

A-Rod helped spark a brawl on Saturday when he stared down Red Sox starter Bronson Arroyo after being hit by a pitch.

Jason Varitek, still wearing his catcher's mask, got in the middle of it. After what Varitek said were some "choice words," he catcher pushed Rodriguez in the face, bringing both teams out of their dugouts.

"I just think it was intensity on my part," said Rodriguez, who was ejected from the game and watched from the clubhouse as Bill Mueller homered off Mariano Rivera in the ninth to give Boston an 11-10 win.

"It just shows you how much both teams were hyped up," Rodriguez said. "Once you're in the moment, competing against the team you don't really like ... you can't really control your emotions."

Rodriguez is just getting to know one of baseball's most bitter rivalries after he was courted by both teams last winter. With Texas seeking to get out of his record $252 million, 10-year contract, he was almost traded to Boston before the deal fell apart in December; the Yankees acquired him right before spring training.

With a move to New York and third base -- Yankees captain Derek Jeter was ensconced at shortstop -- it took Rodriguez a while to get his bearings. He was 1-for-17 his first series in Boston in April, but he went 3-for-5 with the go-ahead hit in the ninth inning of the Yankees' 8-7 victory Friday night.

On Saturday, Rodriguez reached on Bronson Arroyo's error in the second inning. He came up again in the third, and Arroyo plunked him.

Rodriguez moved slowly toward first base while glowering at Arroyo, and when Varitek stepped between them tempers flared.

"You're talking about one of the greatest players in the game. He lost his emotions. I lost mine," said Varitek, who claimed to be protecting his pitcher. "It's not a good thing for our sport, but it happens. "

The Red Sox had been looking for a spark to awaken them from a slump that had them playing .500 ball for the last 76 games to fall 8 games behind New York in the AL East race. Boston is fighting with the Chicago White Sox and Oakland Athletics for a wild-card berth.

"We've been waiting for some catalytic event," Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said. "Maybe this whole day ... will serve as that catalyst."

The teams also brawled last fall at Fenway Park during Game 3 of the AL championship series, when Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez threw 72-year-old Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer to the ground. Zimmer, a former Boston manager who is now with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, apologized the next day.

In 1976, New York's Lou Piniella collided with Boston catcher Carlton Fisk at home plate in Yankee Stadium and came up swinging. In the ensuing fight, Red Sox pitcher Bill Lee was body-slammed and wound up with a broken collarbone.

"You never expect a brawl. But last year in the playoffs and now this year. It's an intense rivalry," Jeter said. "It's pretty intense they're trying to catch us. They've been trying to catch us the past few years."


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press