Damon: A-Rod hit by pitch part of game
Veteran outfielder can't speak for Red Sox -- only for Yankees
BOSTON -- Johnny Damon knows the Red Sox, and while he played in Boston for four memorable years, including the World Series championship run in 2004, he is not about to try to get inside their minds now that he's in the clubhouse of their archrival.
But that didn't keep inquiring minds from asking the Yankees' designated hitter on Saturday to read between the lines when Alex Rodriguez was plunked by a high-riding fastball from reliever Craig Hansen in the eighth inning of New York's 10-3 rout of Boston at Fenway Park.
"You have to ask them," Damon said. "We understand that's part of baseball, and we understand that [Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis is] not happy."
Youkilis was buzzed once again by right-hander Joba Chamberlain in the eighth inning of Friday night's game. It marked the third game in two seasons that Youkilis has taken exception with the lack of control resulting in a pitch near his head.
"It's part of the game," Damon said. "Both teams go out and we play hard, and we try to play the game the right way. Unfortunately, Youk's gotten a lot of pitches up and in on him and unfortunately, Alex got hit."
While Friday's fastball hit only Youkilis' bat for a foul ball, Hansen's fastball found flesh on Rodriguez's upper triceps.
"I got a pretty good sting, but I'm OK," said Rodriguez, who, with a bandage on his upper left arm, stopped short of acknowledging the purpose of the pitch. "I have no idea. I'm just happy we won the game."
Asked if he and his Yankees teammates understood the context of the Hansen pitch on Saturday, Damon smiled before adding, "Unfortunately, it's a 97-mph fastball."
Manager Joe Girardi said his star third baseman told him that he would be fine for Sunday night's finale.
"I don't see a problem there," Girardi said of Rodriguez's availability. "
As for his read on it, Girardi did his best to play it down.
"I don't get too caught up in it," the manager said. "I know I don't like it. I don't like seeing our players get hit, and I know [Red Sox manager] Terry [Francona] doesn't like seeing his players get hit because you don't want to lose anyone."
With the two teams separated by just one game in the American League East heading into Sunday night's finale featuring New York's Sidney Ponson and Boston's Jon Lester, Damon is speaking for his teammates when he said the focus is on baseball from here on out.
"This is a great rivalry," Damon said. "Both teams are going to go out and play hard. It should be over. It's nothing we're going to talk about. We know it's part of the game. What we're thinking about [Sunday] is hopefully going out there and doing better against Lester this time out."
Mike Petraglia is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.