posted on Sep, 4 2004 @ 08:22 AM
Brown breaks hand punching clubhouse wall
By MIKE FITZPATRICK, AP Sports Writer
September 4, 2004
NEW YORK (AP) -- Kevin Brown might have punched himself out of the pennant race, and the New York Yankees are angry about it.
Brown broke his non-pitching hand when he punched a wall in the clubhouse Friday night during New York's 3-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.
``You just can't do this, there's no doubt about it. You've got to keep your emotions in check,'' Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. ``It's a
major issue that we shouldn't be dealing with. It's a problem.''
Especially at this point in the year. The loss cut New York's AL East lead to just 2 1/2 games over the Red Sox, its smallest margin since before
games of June 12. The Yankees led by a season-high 10 1/2 games on Aug. 15.
Now they might be without one of their best pitchers down the stretch. Frustrated by an injury-filled season, Brown's hot temper could cost the
Yankees at the most important time.
``Stupidity,'' he said, choosing his words carefully.
``I reacted to frustration I'd swallowed all year. ... There are no excuses. I let it boil over and I did something stupid. I owe my teammates an
apology for letting my emotions take over like that.''
Already short on starting pitching, the Yankees were unsure how long the 39-year-old right-hander might be out. He was to be examined by a hand
``My plan is to splint it and pitch. I just pray that my stupidity didn't hurt the team,'' he said.
Acquired from Los Angeles last offseason, the oft-injured Brown (10-4) missed seven weeks in June and July with a strained lower back and intestinal
parasite. He tweaked his knee while covering first base on an awkward play in the fifth inning Friday, then was hit on the right forearm by Miguel
Tejada's RBI single in the sixth.
Steamed by it all, he walked around the clubhouse in the middle of the sixth and punched a wall, breaking two bones in his left hand.
That was the end of his night.
After the game, Cashman and Yankees manger Joe Torre were visibly annoyed. All-Star catcher Jorge Posada refused to answer questions about Brown's
Cashman said Brown could be disciplined or fined. Torre said he spoke to Brown and expressed his disappointment.
``Certainly uncalled for and unnecessary,'' Torre said. ``There's more to this game than one person. We rely on him a great deal. It's not something
that's helping the team, obviously.''
After the game, the Yankees began reviewing Brown's contract to determine whether a self-inflicted injury could void the guarantee language, one
baseball official said on the condition of anonymity. No determination had been made, the official said.
Brown is earning $15 million this year and is due $15 million in 2005, the final season of his $105 million, seven-year deal.
He is not the first pitcher to hurt himself in anger. Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen broke his right wrist punching a garbage can while on a
minor league rehab assignment with the Mets in 1997. St. Louis reliever Mike Matthews dislocated a bone in his pitching hand in 2000 when he punched
the dugout bench in frustration.
Former Yankees pitcher Doyle Alexander was sidelined for two months after breaking a knuckle when he punched the dugout wall during Gaylord Perry's
300th win at the Kingdome in 1982. And Mets pitcher Pat Zachry, upset at giving up the hit that enabled Pete Rose to tie for the longest hitting
streak in NL history, kicked the dugout steps and broke his toe in 1978.
``Historically, injuries of this nature, in the heat of a performance situation, are part and parcel of a player's intensity and have occurred in the
scope and course of employment for many athletes,'' said Brown's agent, Scott Boras.
But even Brown acknowledged he should have known better.
Brown dropped to 1-3 in his last five starts and 3-8 lifetime against Baltimore. He allowed three runs and five hits in six innings, struck out seven
and walked two.
``Kevin has great pride and great passion for the game. I'm sure he regrets it,'' teammate Alex Rodriguez said. ``We've had a lot of hurdles this
year. It's just another one we're going to have to overcome, and we will.''
Rodrigo Lopez (11-8) shut down the Yankees' offense, Tejada got his major league-leading 122nd RBI, and the streaky Orioles won their fifth straight
following a 12-game losing skid.
Derek Jeter homered in the first inning for the Yankees, who lost for the first time since Tuesday's record-setting 22-0 defeat against Cleveland.
Jorge Julio struck out Rodriguez, Hideki Matsui and Posada in succession for his 20th save