A-Rod: Braden makes mound out of molehill
Yankees get a laugh over A's pitcher's claim of trespassing
ANAHEIM -- Alex Rodriguez began chomping a large wad of bubble gum and, through a grin, managed to spit out some sugary non-responses. To the Yankees star, the controversy concerning possession of Dallas Braden's mound has been left behind in the Bay Area.
"It's funny," Rodriguez said Friday. "Is there nothing else? Don't you guys like Southern California? There's really nothing else to say about that."
Rodriguez's so-called trespass across the mound at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum -- and Braden's emphatic response -- did garner a few chuckles on the Yankees' charter flight as they moved on down the California coast to open a three-game weekend series with the Angels.
The play in question transpired in the sixth inning of New York's 4-2 loss to the A's on Thursday, when Robinson Cano hit a foul ball and Rodriguez had to return to first base. Rodriguez decided to cut across the infield and, in doing so, set foot across the top of the mound.
"I was tired," said A-Rod, who guessed that he might have done the same thing a few dozen times in Major League games. "It's really not that big of a deal."
Braden certainly took exception, calling out Rodriguez after the play and also after the inning before venting to reporters. Rodriguez returned a dismissive wave to Braden's shouts and, in the bottom half of the eventful inning, started the Yankees' first triple play since 1968.
"I think it's competitive spirit -- boys being boys," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "As far as what Dallas said, I'm concerned about how my player reacts. I'm not concerned about how other players react. You move on.
"I don't think Alex was doing anything malicious or trying to send a message," Girardi continued. "I think he just happened to run back to first base. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line."
In his postgame sessions with reporters from Oakland and New York, Braden suggested that Rodriguez "should probably take a note from his captain over there and realize you don't cross the pitcher's mound in between an inning or during the game," a reference to Derek Jeter.
But Jeter seemed to have A-Rod's back, and furthermore, was amused by Braden's claims.
"It never crossed my mind," Jeter said. "I've never heard that before. If you asked me that question yesterday before the game, it's one of those things I'd never think of."
Jeter said that Braden's statements were "out there" and pointed out that CC Sabathia had spent plenty of time on the Coliseum mound that afternoon as well.
"It isn't like [Braden] brought it from home, you know what I mean?" Jeter said.
The Yankees' Mark Teixeira said that he also didn't believe Rodriguez had fractured any of baseball's unwritten codes.
"I'm sure it happens hundreds of times a year, I would assume," Teixeira said. "It's such a non-issue that, in eight years, I've never heard about it or heard anyone talk about it.
"Alex handled it with perfect class. He handled it great. He could have been more upset. He just shrugged it off because it was comical. We had fun with it once we heard his comments. We've been laughing since."
Rodriguez was right there with them, chuckling to himself between chomps of bubble gum as he headed for batting practice.
"This is not even entertaining," Rodriguez said. "I think it's funny that you guys are thinking it's funny that I think it's funny."
Slow-recovering Park heading to Florida
ANAHEIM -- Chan Ho Park's strained right hamstring is still too tight for the right-handed reliever to throw off a mound, and he will be sent to the Yankees' Minor League complex in Tampa, Fla., after the conclusion of the Angels series on Sunday.
Park went on the disabled list April 16 and had tentatively been scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Tuesday in Baltimore, but he requested the trip to Florida, believing that the warmer weather might help -- as it did last October, when he was trying to make it back to the Phillies' postseason roster.
"The weather was so warm, it helped heal quickly," Park said. "I felt much better. It is still a little bit tight, so that makes me feel that I'm not ready to throw on the mound. The next couple of days, it's going to feel much better."
"Hopefully I'm ready to throw a bullpen next week, and come back right away."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that Park told him he did not feel pain in the hamstring, just soreness. Park is scheduled to play long-toss on Sunday at Angel Stadium before leaving the team.
Johnson slumping but still starting
ANAHEIM -- Mired in an 0-for-19 skid, designated hitter Nick Johnson was a volunteer for early batting practice on Friday at Angel Stadium, trying to work out the kinks that still plague his swing.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that despite the troubles, he hadn't considered benching Johnson or moving him from the No. 2 spot in the lineup. Johnson did snap the skid at 0-for-21 with a fourth-inning single off Ervin Santana, finishing 1-for-4 before leaving for pinch-hitter Marcus Thames in the ninth.
"At times, you're going to be in slumps," Girardi said. "I'm throwing him right back in there. This is a game where at times you're going to struggle, and you've got to fight your way right out of it."
Johnson's longest career hitless streak is an 0-for-22 slide set last season with the Marlins from Sept. 16 to Oct. 2.
The Yankees have yet to lose consecutive games in 2010. ... Marcus Thames hit his first home run of the season on Thursday, his second career blast as a Yankee and first since June 10, 2002, off Arizona's Randy Johnson in his first big league at-bat. The span of seven years, 316 days was the longest such stretch between Yankees homers since Jack Quinn homered on Sept. 11, 1911, and May 15, 1920 (eight years, 247 days), according to the Elias Sports Bureau. ... The Yankees are 9-0 this season when leading after six innings after faring 71-2 in those games in 2009.
Byran Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.