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Gomes, Duncan may face discipline

FORT MYERS — Rays outfielder Jonny Gomes and Yankees infielder Shelley Duncan are likely to be suspended today with Major League Baseball's expected announcement of disciplinary action from Wednesday's brawl.

That would be good and bad news for the Rays, who remained adamant Thursday that Duncan should be suspended for his hard and spikes-high slide into second baseman Akinori Iwamura, but hopeful Gomes would escape punishment for charging at Duncan in Iwamura's defense.

And they have another beef with the Yankees, claiming that in the middle of the benches-clearing melee outfielder Melky Cabrera punched prospect Evan Longoria in the back of the head.

Rays manager Joe Maddon maintained his view that Duncan's actions were "a suspendable offense" but that in context, "I don't think what Jon did was wrong. I think what Jon did was right.

"And I would really challenge anybody on any level, whether it's professional sports or it's your buddy, what you would do under those same set of circumstances."

Gomes said Duncan has "got to get something, most definitely, because there's no room in the game for that" and because his actions were premeditated. But Gomes was hoping he received only a fine, "that a suspension might be a little harsh."

It is not clear for how long they would be suspended, or whether it would be for spring or regular-season games.

Iwamura said it wasn't his place to say whether Duncan should be suspended. But with photos showing how high Duncan's left foot was and a 3- to 4-inch cut on his leg, Iwamura said through an interpreter that he considered it a dirty play and "not the way to play at the professional level."

In Tampa, Duncan maintained his innocence, saying he watched the replay a couple of times and though it didn't look exactly as he thought (but wasn't worse), "I still don't understand why they were as upset as they were."

And while Yankees manager Joe Girardi spoke privately with Duncan about his actions, he continued to refuse to say whether he thought they were inappropriate, in part because he — somehow — still hadn't seen a replay. "Shelley told me he was trying to break up the play, trying to go after his glove," Girardi said. "I take Shelley at his word."

Maddon didn't seem concerned with what the Yankees said.

"I stand by what we said. I stand by our interpretation of the play. I will not back down for a minute. I know we are right in this regard, so it's up to them to spin it the way they would like to spin it," Maddon said. "But I know what happened. Everybody that saw it knows what happened. It's indisputable what happened. So bring on the spin doctors."

The Rays say there is video evidence of Cabrera punching Longoria, and they hope MLB officials see it and discipline him, too.

"Hopefully they watch the video and see a rabbit punch over the top," Rays bench coach Dave Martinez said. "He jumped over the back and hit him in the head."

Longoria said Thursday that he was fine, but questioned Cabrera's methods.

"I just got clipped a little bit on the back of the head; it was nothing serious," Longoria said. "I just don't think that's what's needed, especially in that kind of situation where I'm over there trying to pull guys away from the fight, and you got guys in the back just throwing punches."

So did teammate B.J. Upton: "if you're going to hit someone, at least let him see it. Man up and do it face-to-face."

Cabrera, however, told the New York Daily News, he "never punched anybody" because he was being restrained by teammate Bernie Castro. "I was trying to get into the fight, but he was holding me back," Cabrera said.

Marc Topkin can be reached at
topkin@sptimes.com.

Gomes, Duncan may face discipline 03/13/08 [Last modified: Saturday, March 15, 2008 2:56pm]

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