Red Sox slugger David Ortiz tread into dangerous waters Wednesday, coming to the defense of embattled Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez in the wake of Sunday's hit-by-pitch heard 'round the world, reports Jorge L. Ortiz of USA Today:
"I didn't like it. I don't think it was the right thing to do...
"We don't all think alike, and the guy who did it, Dempster, is a great guy. It's not that I didn't think it was right because Alex and I are friends, because once you cross the white lines, everyone's on their own.
"But we've got Tampa right on our heels, and that pitch woke up a monster in the Yankees' team at that moment."
While Ortiz's statements touch more on how the HBP affected the outcome of the game then A-Rod in particular, they are still in pretty stark contrast to those of his teammates. Ryan Dempster, who was suspended five games for the plunking, has stated publicly that he did not throw at Rodriguez on purpose. Ortiz's comments seem to strongly indicate otherwise.
In addition to the hit-by-pitch, Ortiz also touched on A-Rod's pending 211-game suspension, stating that he's unsure who to side with at this point because he hasn't seen all the evidence. He did add, however, that he thought a ban of that length "had something to do with [A-Rod's] contract," which could end up setting a bad precedent in the future:
...You can't let any team break a contract, because then the next time a player gets a DUI, or is charged with domestic violence or with any other thing, then the team may try to get out of a contract. They would have [precedent].''
At the moment, MLB teams do not seem to punish players at all in cases of drunk driving and/or domestic violence, so it's not clear how changing contract parameters would affect their current inaction.
MLB spokesman Pat Courtney immediately responded to Ortiz's comments, stating that Rodriguez's contract was "immaterial" in the case.