The New York Yankees spent a weekend embroiled in controversy.

Ho-hum and welcome to the world's media capital, eh?

While one of their relievers (Brian Bruney) was squabbling with a Mets counterpart (Francisco Rodriguez), Yanks manager Joe Girardi was going after Red Sox starter Brad Penny.

All this and baseball, too? What a country.

Penny yesterday denied Girardi's accusations that he deliberately hit Alex Rodriguez with a pitch. A-Rod was hit in the back in the first inning Thursday night at Fenway Park, prompting umpires to warn both teams.

"He needs to worry about managing and let the league and the umpires take care of their job and he can take care of his," Penny said, dismissing Girardi's charge by saying, "I'm just pitching."

The Red Sox, who won that game, 4-3, are 8-0 against the Bronx Bombers this season. Maybe Girardi should call for a few "purpose pitches" of his own.

Historic pace

Tampa Bay's Ben Zobrist has started at six positions this season, and we're still a month away from the all-star break. The versatile switch-hitter has started games at all three outfield spots, plus third, second and shortstop.

He also has 12 homers, which brings us to one of those arcane statistics that makes baseball the history lover's sport and an optometrist's dream.

According to Jayson Stark of, if Zobrist keeps swatting homers at this rate, he'll pass former Red Sox utilityman Felix Mantilla, who ripped 30 homers in 1964 while also starting at six positions.

Adding insult to injury

The Detroit Tigers played the Pirates in Pittsburgh yesterday, so the hosts called out the big guns - Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, coach Dan Bylsma, and 14 other players paraded around the Stanley Cup they won by beating Detroit in Game 7 on Friday night.

Both teams wore throwback-style uniforms to honor the 100th anniversary of the Tigers-Pirates World Series won, naturally, by Pittsburgh - in a Game 7 in Detroit. Ouch.

Oh, and Pittsburgh won yesterday's game as well, 6-3.


Oakland's Eric Chavez, a six-time Gold Glove third baseman who is on the 60-day disabled list with a herniated disk, is scheduled for season-ending back surgery June 23. . . . Angels reliever Scot Shields will have season-ending surgery on his left knee tomorrow, manager Mike Scioscia said. . . . Boston's John Smoltz, recovering from right shoulder surgery, said he is ready to make his scheduled start Thursday, but isn't sure if it will be for the Red Sox or for triple-A Pawtucket. . . . Orioles centerfielder Adam Jones was scratched from yesterday's game with Atlanta because of a bruised left shin. . . . Kansas City's Coco Crisp was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sore right shoulder.