TAMPA — There turned out to be so little drama to Saturday's Rays-Yankees game that the most interesting topic of postgame discussion was Alex Rodriguez's exaggerated effort to avoid a home-plate collision.
But the owners did have their say.
In Saturday's New York Post, Yankees general partner Hank Steinbrenner suggested, essentially, that because the Rays get financial support from the Yankees, they don't have the right to play rough against them.
"I don't want these teams in general to forget who subsidizes a lot of them, and it's the Yankees, the Red Sox, Dodgers," Steinbrenner said. "I would prefer if teams want to target the Yankees that they at least start giving some of that revenue sharing and luxury tax money back. From an owner's point of view, that's my point."
To which Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg responded, via e-mail to the St. Petersburg Times: "Off the field, we are partners in trying to strengthen and grow the game of baseball. On the field, we expect our teams will compete with energy and passion, and none of us — whether as an owner, a player or a fan — would want it any other way."
Saturday's game — won by the Rays 7-2 — was fairly typical of spring action and was played without warnings from the umpiring crew. Shelley Duncan, who started Wednesday's melee with his hard slide into second, batted twice with nary a close call, reaching on an error and grounding out. He didn't appear to have any conversation with Rays 2B Akinori Iwamura.
Rodriguez said he had "not one thought" of running into C Josh Paul in the fourth, instead stopping several feet short of the plate and getting tagged. "We have a lot of respect for that team, and now we are back to playing baseball," Rodriguez said. "It's all behind us now."
Rays manager Joe Maddon said all he took from the play was "an out for the Rays." Veteran C Mike Difelice said, "I guess he was following his manager's advice — don't run people over at home plate."
Riggans hurt, C.C. out: C Shawn Riggans, the leading candidate for the backup job, had at least a bruised (and possibly broken) left hand after being hit by a pitch as he shielded his face against the Braves. "It's just real upsetting," Riggans said. "I was starting to get into somewhat of a rhythm, and (this) could possibly set me back a bit." Riggans was one of five hit batters. … LF Carl Crawford was scratched because of tightness in his legs that Maddon said was not serious.
Discipline update: Rays OF Jonny Gomes decided to appeal his two-game suspension, hoping it is halved or dropped. Yankees OF Melky Cabrera will appeal his three-game ban, insisting MLB officials and video evidence are wrong because he did not punch Evan Longoria in the head during the scrum. Duncan hasn't decided whether to appeal.
Game action: RHP Jason Hammel, a favorite for one of the open rotation spots, threw five scoreless inning against the Braves, outdueling John Smoltz. … The Rays led 10-3, gave up seven runs in the eighth (five by Calvin Medlock), then won 11-10. … 1B Carlos Pena homered off Smoltz. … RHP Jeff Niemann, a long shot for the rotation, had an impressive four-inning outing against the Yankees, drawing Maddon's praise for keeping the ball down. … INF/OF Eric Hinske homered and raised his average to .480. Difelice, Hector Gimenez and Chris Richard homered as well in Tampa.