Day after incident, Rays moving on
Club still edgy but hoping to put skirmish behind them
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A day after a skirmish between the Rays and the Yankees, manager Joe Maddon stuck by his original assessment of the spikes-high slide by New York first baseman Shelley Duncan that left Tampa Bay second baseman Akinori Iwamura with a three-inch gash on his right thigh.
"I stand by what we said; I stand by our interpretation of the play," Maddon said before the Rays played the Red Sox at City of Palms Park on Thursday. "I will not back down for a minute. I know we are right in this regard, so it's up to [the Yankees] to spin it the way they would like to spin it. That is entirely up to them. But I know what happened. Everybody who saw it knows what happened. It's indisputable what happened. So bring on the spin doctors."
While Maddon said he thought Duncan's slide deserved a suspension, he will leave it to league officials to make that determination.
"I will let MLB do their job," he said. "I made my point in the paper yesterday. Somebody asked me if I thought it was a suspendable offense and I said yes. But I'm going to stay out of that. My job is to manage this team and have us play the way we want to play on a daily basis -- hard and according to the rules."
With the Rays and Yanks scheduled to play twice more this spring, including a Rays split-squad game on Sunday in Tampa, Fla., and 18 times during the regular season, the possibility for familiarity breeding contempt exists.
"I really want it to go away," Maddon added. "I want us to play baseball. You ask all of our people, all our guys, we want to play baseball. That's all we want to do.
"No question it's going to be a little bit more difficult, because of the frequency with which we play these guys. I can't deny that. However, I'm going to say we're going to go out to play the game properly and we're going to play it hard. We're going to play right, like we've been doing the entire time, and we're not going out there to try to injure anybody on a daily basis. That is not part of our game."
Asked if Jonny Gomes, who raced in from right field and pushed Duncan down at second, emptying the benches, should also be suspended, Maddon replied:
"I will discuss that with [the Commissioner's Office] internally. I think if you look at the whole situation appropriately, I don't think what [Gomes] did was wrong, I think what he did was right, and I would really challenge anybody on any level, whether it's professional sports or just your buddy."
Iwamura was in the lineup against the Red Sox on Thursday.
"It's not the right thing to do, and I wouldn't do it myself," he said of Duncan's slide. "Of course, you break up the double play, but at the same time, you never, ever spike somebody. This is not play at the professional level.
"I got no feelings to him," Iwamura added. "He made an out. That's it."
Gomes, who was ejected from Wednesday's game, said it's likely he will receive a suspension.
"When you get thrown out in a big league ballgame, you're definitely going to have wear something," Gomes said. "I would say that's fair to say [that Duncan deserves a harsher penalty]. ... What he did was premeditated -- a week in advance, you know, saying he was going to do it. What would happen to a pitcher if he said, 'I'm going to hit some guy in the head,' and [then he] hits a guy in the head?"
Maddon said he would discuss the situation with his players before the Yankees games.
"Absolutely, no question," he said. "We talk every day. We have a little meeting every day, and I try to address the issues of the day, and, of course, I'm going to talk about it again with them. They're going to know where I stand on it."
Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.