On a weekend featuring Luis Castillo’s inexplicable error and one of the worst starts of Johan Santana’s career, DL’d Yankee reliever Brian Bruney somehow managed to steal the spotlight when he went after Francisco Rodriguez after Friday night’s game. K-Rod responded to the comments initially with a resounding “Who?“, but today escalated the situation by seeking Bruney out during warmups today and getting right in his face.
(”What did you say about my lobster bisque?”)
So what was it that raised K-Rod’s ire? After Castillo’s dropped pop-up that gave the Yankees the win on Friday with Rodriguez on the mound, Bruney gave this quote to the HUNTERDON COUNTY DEMOCRAT: “Couldn’t have happened to a better guy on the mound, either. 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.”
The most telling part in all of this is that the only paper that was interested in getting Bruney’s reaction after the game was the HUNTERDON COUNTY DEMOCRAT (which is apparently in New Jersey). And from Sunday’s reports, it appears as if K-Rod is getting the best of this confrontation. There’s a reason he’s a closer, you know.
Bruney has a problem with what he perceives to be Rodriguez’ showboating on the mound (pointing to the sky, etc.). What Bruney doesn’t have is the clout to be calling other players out in the media. In fact, Bruney’s still on the DL because he lied to the Yankees about feeling OK during his rehab appearances in May, when he actually made his injury worse.
Bruney’s comments look even worse when you consider that his teammate, Joba Chamberlain, is perhaps the poster boy for feather-rustling mound antics.
MLB.COM tag team of Marty Noble and Bryan Hoch demonstrate the ways K-Rod owned Bruney this weekend.
First, through the media:
“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.”
And second, face-to-face:
The two pitchers were separated after K-Rod confronted Bruney in left field once the Mets had completed their stretching regimen. 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.
“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.”
Really, Bruney never had a chance in this showdown. Guys like Jeter and Rivera aren’t going to waste their time defending Bruney for making silly comments. Meanwhile, K-Rod cemented his status as a leader in his clubhouse by taking matters into his own hands:
“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.”
Now let’s see if Bruney can take the heat from Mets fans if he’s back on the active roster when the Yanks travel to CitiField.
*UPDATE*: We found some video of the pre-game confrontation: