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Penny's plunking intentional, Girardi says

Penny's plunking intentional, Girardi says

NEW YORK -- Joe Girardi made no qualms about it. In his mind, the pitch from Red Sox starter Brad Penny that hit Alex Rodriguez in the back on Thursday night was no accident.

"Penny's control was pretty good -- I thought it was on purpose," said Girardi, the Yankees' manager. "That's all part of baseball, I guess."

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In the first inning of the Red Sox's 4-3 win over the Yankees, Penny drilled Rodriguez with a fastball clocked at 97 mph immediately following another fastball that brushed Rodriguez off the plate. Crew chief Gerry Davis warned both benches, and there were no further incidents.

Though the warning appeared to come quickly, it is possible the umpires interpreted the pitch as retaliation for Yankees reliever Jose Veras hitting outfielder Jason Bay in Tuesday's game. Girardi maintained on Friday that Veras did not intentionally hit Bay, saying Veras has been struggling with his command.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Davis told him that Major League Baseball had the umpires on watch for any sign of trouble, considering the nature of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.

"I talked to Gerry, he didn't want things to escalate," Girardi said. "The hard part about giving a warning in that situation from our standpoint is that you want to pitch guys inside. When you're pitching guys inside, if you hit someone, you don't want there to be a misinterpretation.

"I understand them not wanting things to escalate, but sometimes it makes it harder on your pitcher and on your club when there's a warning issued so early."

Both managers were asked about the possibility of Penny being suspended before Friday's games. Francona said he would be "shocked," while Girardi deferred judgment to the Commissioner's Office. Yankees starter A.J. Burnett was recently suspended six games for throwing near the head of Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz -- a decision he has since appealed.

"It seems like there's always the feeling that if someone intentionally throws at someone, you're going to be suspended," Girardi said. "I don't care for it. I don't care for hitting in that situation. But that's my opinion. I'm not 100 percent right that he threw at him on purpose, but that's my feeling."

Through eight games this season between the Yankees and Red Sox, things have remained relatively civil. After being hit, Rodriguez took a few steps forward, picked up the ball and jogged to first. There were no words exchanged between him and Penny, and there have been no problems between the two clubs thus far.

On July 24, 2004, Rodriguez and Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek engaged in a heated altercation leading to ejections on both sides -- just one of many recent incidents between the bitter rivals.

But Francona thinks that may be over.

"I don't see anything happening now," Francona said. "We've certainly had our moments [in the past]. I wasn't expecting that, if that's what you're asking. It's been pretty much baseball, which is good.

"I also undersand the umpires' predicament, because our games are on TV, everyone's watching, they've got people watching them. I understand the predicament. I just don't want it to get in the way of the game."

Jared Diamond is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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