Alex Rodriguez received overwhelming support from his manager and teammates when Ryan Dempster plunked the embattled New York Yankees slugger on Sunday night.
Three days later, David Ortiz also stuck up for Rodriguez, saying he disapproved of Dempster throwing at Rodriguez.
“I didn’t like it. I don’t think it was the right thing to do,” Ortiz told USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday. “But we don’t all think alike, and the guy who did it -- Dempster -- is a great guy.”
Rodriguez has come under intense scrutiny for his involvement in the Biogenesis case and his appeal of a 211-game suspension from Major League Baseball.
Several players, including some of Ortiz’s Boston Red Sox teammates, have publicly criticized the rules for allowing Rodriguez to play during the lengthy appeal process. The issue was magnified Sunday when Dempster threw one pitch behind Rodriguez’s knees and two more inside before drilling the third baseman in the elbow with a 3-0 pitch, drawing raucous cheers from the crowd at Fenway Park.
Dempster’s actions have widely been interpreted as retaliation for Rodriguez’s ongoing involvement in baseball’s steroids controversy, although the right-hander has denied intentionally throwing at the three-time MVP.
Regardless of Dempster’s intentions, Ortiz disagreed with plunking Rodriguez, who homered later in Sunday night’s showdown and helped the surging Yankees rally from an early deficit for a 9-6 victory.
“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,” Ortiz told USA TODAY Sports. “But we’ve got Tampa right on our heels, and that pitch woke up a monster in the Yankees’ team at that moment.
“You saw how the game ended up. CC Sabathia was throwing 91 (mph) and started throwing 96. Alex later hit one way out there. You’re talking about a good team that you can’t wake up. But we learn from our mistakes.”