K-Rod's feud with Bruney escalates

K-Rod's feud with Bruney escalates

NEW YORK -- The verbal Subway Series spat between Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez and Yankees reliever Brian Bruney escalated into a physical confrontation on Sunday, as the pitchers swapped aggressive words and gestures in the outfield before the Yankees' 15-0 victory.

The players had to be separated after K-Rod confronted Bruney in left field, once the Mets had completed their stretching regimen. Bruney said that his intention was to approach Rodriguez to make peace, after he was quoted saying that Rodriguez has "a tired act" and called the closer's on-field actions "embarrassing."

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.

"I wasn't trying to go pick a fight," Bruney said after the game. "If anything, I was hoping we could cross paths and bury the axe. I think that it's ridiculous that this is a big story. ... To me, it's over with, and hopefully for him, it's over with. I don't think either of us are worried about it."

Mets right-hander Mike Pelfrey said he interceded after the 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."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi had described the tiff as "boys being boys" before Sunday's game, but he said he was looking forward to separating the clubs for two weeks.

"It's best just to let it be put to rest," Girardi said. "And it'll probably be good we don't see them for a little bit, so it can just die down."

Rodriguez was irritated by comments Bruney made on Saturday, as reported by the Hunterdon County (N.J.) Democrat and confirmed by Bruney. 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 had 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. A YES Network video, time-stamped at 11:03 a.m. ET, showed Rodriguez gesturing several times with an outstretched index finger toward Bruney, though the two did not appear to actually make contact.

Rodriguez declined comment after the game, saying, "I'm not going to say anything, so don't waste your time." Mets manager Jerry Manuel also dodged questions on the topic.

"I didn't see anything -- I heard something," Manuel said. "There's a lot of stuff I heard on the street."

But Rodriguez had plenty to say on Saturday, when he was first made aware of the comments, insisting that he 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 has also 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 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."

"At least Frankie went to the guy," Alex Cora added. "I think it's better that way than to go from A to C and then to B. Through the papers, you don't really respect that."

Bruney said his issue came with Rodriguez's excessive celebration and mound demeanor. He specifically pointed to 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.

Bruney had said that he "learned to play the game a different way" and that he would not act the way Rodriguez does, but complimented the closer's career and said that he may have erred in speaking so freely. Bruney never actually had a chance to apologize to Rodriguez, but did not think Rodriguez's reaction was out of line.

"I think that showed me a lot," Bruney said. "I respect a man that comes at you like that. It is what it is. I think it's over. In my opinion, it's over. I believe that in his mind, I'm sure he's not worried about me. He's probably over this, too."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Marty Noble contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.