A-Rod's yell still bothering Jays

BOB ELLIOTT -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:55 AM ET

NEW YORK -- John McDonald was born and raised a Connecticut Yankee.

He starred at East Lyme (Conn.) high school, spent two years at the University of Connecticut-Avery Point before transferring to Providence University. McDonald's home state is a 50-50 split between Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees fans.

And so on May 31, his phone began to ring. The night before, the Jays third baseman was camped under a harmless pop-up off the bat of Jorge Posada with two out at Rogers Centre.

Running the bases, Alex Rodriguez was passing behind Howie Clark as the ball descended. Clark said he heard Rodriguez yell, "Mine!," while Rodriguez claimed he yelled, "HA!" Clark bailed, giving McDonald room and the ball fell, leading to three more Yankees runs.

Newspaper photos the day after showed the 5-foot-9 McDonald being restrained as he yelled at a smiling 6-foot-3 Rodriguez, foot planted on the third-base bag.

RETRIBUTION

Last night was the first meeting between the two since the incident. Would any retribution take place?

"What they should do is not go near him the first three games and brush him back his final time up Thursday afternoon, he's a worrier," said one veteran baseball man.

Josh Towers threw his first pitch to Rodriguez away last night and followed with an offspeed pitch for a swinging strike. He pitched away again to make the count 2-1 and then got Rodriguez on a hard one-hopper to Troy Glaus, who started a 5-4-3 double play to end the first.

Next time up, Rodriguez, who entered the game 4-for-23 (.174) lifetime against Towers, hit the first pitch he saw for a two-run homer to left. He now has three homers and six RBIs against Towers.

One never knows who is being honest about how much ill will remains from the play.

"We didn't talk about it much in our clubhouse, it was more for other people," McDonald said last night. "My buddies called, asked what happened. I grew up around here. My friends are Yankee fans and wanted to see the Yankees win.

"But they know me and they know I don't get upset too often so I think they knew I had a reason.

"But it's all open to interpretation."

The Jays' interpretation, according to manager John Gibbons on the night of, is that it "was a bush-league play." Last night before the game, it was "so long ago we forgot until a reporter brought it up in Boston."

The reading from the old guard such as Hall of Famer Joe Morgan was that "it happens all the time." Players may try to distract players all the time but seldom do you see it lead to three runs.

The Jays were wrong not to catch the ball. Reliever Brian Wolfe worked hard to saw off Posada with a pop-up.

Time has changed the Yanks' read on the play. Two days after the incident, manager Joe Torre knocked his own player, saying, "It was inappropriate, it's probably something he shouldn't have done.

"I don't sense he'll do it again."

Last night, he was defending him.

"If A-Rod had been the one who let the ball drop, A-Rod is the one who'd get criticized," Torre said. "I've never seen anyone with the spotlight on him like that all the time."

Clark remembered his time in the spotlight in what was his first game with the Jays this season.

"Not to repeat myself, but when it happened, I said that it had never happened to me before. John (McDonald) said it had never happen to him," Clark said.

"I don't think it's something you're ever taught.

"It just happened. I doubt he's done it before. I don't even speculate, but it happened to me. There are certain things that happen in the game that you wonder about. Is that part of the game or not part of the game? I can just base it on the history, games I've played, and it's never happened to me."

You will likely see a head-banging collision between two Jays infielders both yelling "I got it!" before it happens again ... against the Yankees ... with Rodriguez on base.


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