IN THE BLUE CORNER:
IN THE RED CORNER:
The two pitchers were separated after K-Rod confronted Bruney in left field once the Mets had completed their stretching regimen. What developed was described by several Mets who were near the one-on-one as mostly a one-way conversation replete with finger-pointing by Rodriguez. Mets players said Bruney didn’t back off, but he said little and the Yankees’ visible support of Bruney wasn’t particularly strong.
Right-hander Mike Pelfrey said he interceded after the K-Rod-Bruney feud had simmered for “a minute or two” and that Jose Veras, a Yankees pitcher, had interceded on Bruney’s behalf.
“We stepped in before something happened,” Pelfrey said. “It was getting a little hot. K-Rod went right up to him after we were done stretching and after he found out who he was. He really didn’t know. He kept asking, ‘Is that the guy?’
“All he was saying was something like, ‘If you have something to say, say it to my face.’ And Bruney didn’t say much at all.”
Rodriguez had become irritated by comments Bruney made on Friday, as reported by the Hunterdon County (N.J.) Democrat and confirmed by Bruney on Saturday. The Yankees right-hander, 27, said he was pleased when the error by Luis Castillo on the final play of the Yankees’ 9-8 victory on Friday denied K-Rod a save.
“[It] couldn’t have happened to a better guy on the mound, either,” Bruney said. “He’s got a tired act. … He gets what he deserves, man. I just don’t like watching the guy pitch. I think it’s embarrassing.”
Bruney, who usually spends time in right field while the Yankees take batting practice, had walked in the direction of left field with teammate Phil Coke as some Mets, Rodriguez among them, gathered in left. Earlier, Bruney had asked an MLB.com reporter at what time the Mets would take the field. A person familiar with the situation suggested that Bruney had intended to apologize or at least explain his remarks to K-Rod.
“I stand by what I say,” Bruney had said on Saturday. “I’m not going to sit here and tell you I was joking, because I really wasn’t. But I’m not going to start a media war with K-Rod. Apparently the guy doesn’t know who I am, so it does me no good to talk about him.”
When first made aware of the comments, Rodriguez had no idea who Bruney was. The Yankees reliever has spent parts of six seasons in the big leagues and has made 196 Major League appearances. But he also has had several assignments to the disabled list. Currently disabled for the second time this season — battling a strained right elbow flexor muscle — Bruney threw a scoreless inning for Double-A Trenton in a rehab appearance against Binghamton on Friday when he made his initial comments.
“He’s always been on the DL — that’s all I really know right now,” Rodriguez said on Saturday. “He’d better keep his mouth shut and do his job, and not worry about somebody else. If it was somebody big, I might pay attention to it. But somebody like that? It doesn’t bother me.
“If somebody comes out with that — somebody big like Mariano [Rivera], somebody who has been around and is good at what he does — I would respect that. But for some guy that I don’t even know, that hasn’t even played a full year in the big leagues, that’s always been hurt? It doesn’t bother me.”
The Mets seemed to enjoy the confrontation and how K-Rod handled it.
“It was cool,” outfielder Ryan Church said. “Frankie walked right up to him and got right in his face. And the kid didn’t say a thing.”
Bruney said his issue came with Rodriguez’s excessive celebration and mound demeanor, which is a familiar topic to the Yankees, who have endured media and fan criticism for similar behavior by Joba Chamberlain.
Bruney said that his issue with Rodriguez stems from an Aug. 11, 2005, game in which K-Rod was pitching for the Angels at Oakland.
Displeased with a close pitch that he did not get from home-plate umpire Mike DiMuro, Rodriguez disgustedly stabbed at a return throw from then-Angels catcher and current Yankees backstop Jose Molina, and missed. Jason Kendall raced home with the winning run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning.
“I learned to play the game a different way — that’s all I can say,” Bruney said. “You won’t see me do that, the way he acts. You won’t see that.
“The guy is doing his job — he’s had a great career. He set the saves record. It doesn’t matter what I think. I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks that, but again, he doesn’t know who I am, so it doesn’t matter.”
Originally placed on the shelf in late April, Bruney had hurried back, telling the Yankees he felt no pain in a May 17 rehab start with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, even though he did.
After that start, the Yankees expressed disappointment with Bruney, saying that he needed to be more forthcoming. The Yankees could consider activating Bruney from the DL as soon as Tuesday, when they open a three-game series against the Nationals.
“I was lying last time, pretty much,” Bruney said. “I feel good this time, and I feel good telling you that I feel good.”
You can check out a snip of the video here