BOSTON (CBS) — With three full days passed, you might have thought it would be safe to assume on Thursday morning that any and all discussion of Alex Rodriguez getting hit by a pitch thrown by Ryan Dempster would officially be over. Well, you’d be wrong.
That’s because David Ortiz, the longest-tenured member of the Red Sox and the face of the franchise, has chimed in, and he’s not siding with his teammate.
“I didn’t like it. I don’t think it was the right thing to do,” Ortiz told USA Today’s Jorge L. Ortiz.
“It,” of course, was a series of pitches on Sunday night at Fenway Park. Dempster’s first pitch to Rodriguez in the second inning sailed behind A-Rod’s legs, and the next two fastballs were inside. The fourth pitch of the at-bat hit Rodriguez in the elbow pad, kicking off a days-long frenzy of arguing about right and wrong, fair and unfair, and the unwritten codes of baseball. Yankees manager Joe Girardi was ejected for arguing and was fined, while Dempster was handed a five-game suspension from MLB.
Ortiz, longtime friends with Rodriguez, said his opinion isn’t based in his friendship.
We don’t all think alike, and the guy who did it, Dempster, is a great guy,” Ortiz said. “It’s not that I didn’t think it was right because Alex and I are friends, because once you cross the white lines, everyone’s on their own. But we’ve got Tampa right on our heels [in the standings], and that pitch woke up a monster in the Yankees’ team at that moment.”
The Yankees were trailing 2-0 at the time that Dempster hit Rodriguez, but they rallied to win 9-6 over the Red Sox. The Yankees have won their three games since, including a sweep of a double-header on Tuesday over Toronto.
Ortiz also defended A-Rod regarding the 211-game suspension MLB placed on the Yankees’ third baseman. Ortiz supports Rodriguez’s appeal, because he said the unprecedented length of the suspension was only due to Rodriguez’s large contract.
“You can’t let any team break a contract, because then the next time a player gets a DUI, or is charged with domestic violence or with any other thing, then the team may try to get out of a contract,” Ortiz said. “They would have [precedent].”
However, it was Ortiz’s comments on Dempster’s inside pitch that are likely to get the most attention.
“You saw how the game ended up. CC [Sabathia] was throwing 91 [mph] and started throwing 96,” Ortiz said of Sunday night’s game. “Alex later hit one way out there [a 446-foot homer to center field]. You’re talking about a good team that you can’t wake up. But we learn from our mistakes.”
Those are some strong words from the strongest voice in the Red Sox clubhouse.