Tensions high between Yanks, Tigers

Tensions high between Yanks, Tigers

NEW YORK -- The Yankees and Red Sox may have the hottest rivalry in baseball, but things got pretty hot between the Yanks and Tigers on Tuesday night in the Bronx.

Each team believed that one of its players was hit intentionally by a pitch, as Franklyn German nailed Alex Rodriguez and Paul Quantrill drilled Jason Smith, the latter prompting Detroit's players to take a few steps out of their dugout.

Tuesday's events are just the most recent between the two teams, which have had some issues with each other since Spring Training, when Dmitri Young flattened John Flaherty in a home-plate collision during an exhibition game.

That incident led Young to proclaim, "The days of the nice Tigers are gone. Milk-and-cookie teams finish last."

So when A-Rod, who had hit two of the Yankees' five homers in what was at that point an 11-0 game, was hit by a German fastball in his left thigh, it raised some eyebrows in the Yankees' dugout.

"Whether it was [intentional] or not, it came after a couple of home runs," manager Joe Torre said. "In the old days, teams took care of that stuff."

"Any time a guy hits two home runs, then gets hit like that, you think it's intentional," said Gary Sheffield. "Alex has been our best hitter, so when he gets hit, you have to do something to protect him."

Quantrill appeared to do just that in the eighth inning. With two outs and a runner at third, he threw a pitch that went behind Smith, narrowly missing his rear end. Home plate umpire Chad Fairchild issued a warning, but Quantrill came back with a pitch that hit Smith near his shoulder blade.

"It was a rainy night, the ball slipped," Quantrill said. "I guess the same as it did for whatever that kid's name who was pitching when he hit Alex. Stuff happens."

"It's part of baseball. I know he was upset that A-Rod got hit," Smith said. "I know he was trying to send a message. After he got warned, I kind of figured he'd probably do it again. ... It doesn't bother me. I'm just not that type of person."

Quantrill was ejected automatically, as was Torre, but the incident wasn't quite over. Several Tigers players crept out of their dugout, yelling at Quantrill, who responded by waving his arms, inviting his opponents to the mound.

"My only hangup is when they came out on the field," Quantrill said. "If you want to come on the field and chirp, just come out to the mound if you have a problem with me. Standing six feet in front of your dugout and doing a lot of chirping, that's nonsense in my mind. It leads to bad things."

There was no physical contact between any players, but it was clear after the game that there were still bad feelings in Detroit's clubhouse.

"I didn't think he was going to try again, but then he did. And then he had to go aim at the guy's head," said Young. "[Quantrill] doesn't even know that [Smith's] wife is about to have a baby ... and then he goes at the guy's head?"

Quantrill insisted that the incident in Spring Training played no part in anything that happened on Tuesday.

"I don't see any tension," he said. "When our guys are having a fantastic day at the plate, suddenly there gets to be some wildness, that causes tension."

In addition to the fact that Quantrill hit Smith, a backup infielder, instead of one of the team's regulars, the Tigers seemed bothered that the pitch that hit Smith was thrown high and tight.

"If they hit [leadoff man Brandon] Inge down low, there's no problem with that. We hit their superstar after two home runs. That part of the game happens," Young said. "But when you go after a backup player because you're scared to hit an everyday player, to me you're not a good teammate, because you hit a backup guy around the head."

"If you hit somebody in the head, you can mess somebody up," said Rondell White. "I lost a lot of respect for him, let's put it that way. A lot of guys on the team feel the same way. To me, that's terrible."

Torre said that he didn't expect any carryover on Wednesday, but Young wasn't so sure that would be the case.

"We'll just see what happens tomorrow," Young said. "We try to play baseball and win, and this guy wants to be a headhunter."

Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.