It was coming at some point. The hatred for Alex Rodriguez is palpable throughout all of baseball. Players hate that their MLBPA dollars are going to his defense. And with the Red Sox and Yankees playing this weekend, it was all but certain that A-Rod would get plunked at least once. After two clean games, Ryan Dempster took it upon himself to take up the task. In the second inning, with no one out and no one on base, Dempster threw the first pitch behind Rodriguez’s back, then threw two more balls and, with a 3-0 count, hit him in the back. Sox manager John Farrell can claim otherwise as much as he wants, but the pitch was certainly intentional.
Home plate umpire Brian O’Nora warned both teams immediately, but did not eject Dempster. The benches briefly cleared, but the players never came together. Yankees manager Joe Girardi was incensed. He got in O’Nora’s face, screaming at the umpire and throwing his hat in disgust. Girardi was quickly ejected, but his point was clear: Alex Rodriquez is a member of the New York Yankees and players stick up for their teammates. After rumors surfaced last week that A-Rod had turned over evidence that implicated other MLB players in the Biogenesis scandal, including teammate Francisco Cervelli, it was fair to wonder how even his own teammates would treat him. Rodriguez has always been an outcast in the clubhouse, but if he had snitched on a teammate, would players even support him when he inevitably got beaned?
The answer is yes. The dugouts and bullpens cleared briefly, but the main action was Girardi’s tirade against O’Nora. He knew Dempster hit A-Rod on purpose and wanted the Sox starter ejected from the game. But the real reason for his explosion was to show his team that no matter what A-Rod has done, he’s still the starting third basemen for the New York Yankees and as such, they will defend him. They can ignore him in the clubhouse and after the game, but on the diamond, teammates protect each other. Period. Girardi sent that message loud and clear.