With the Yankees and Rays locked down in the same resort hotel in Carlsbad, Calif., up the Pacific Coast from San Diego, don’t expect the AL East rivals, who have been chirping at each other for the past several years, to trade verbal barbs in the lobby.
Each team has made it a point to say the focus is on winning the upcoming best-of-five ALDS and not coming out of the dugout to gather at home plate and yell at each other.
Still, there is no denying the animosity is real. Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier reminded everybody of that on Friday and Brett Gardner didn’t try to calm the turbulent waters Saturday.
“Listen, the feeling is probably mutual,’’ Gardner said when asked Saturday of Kiermaier saying neither team likes the other one. “The last several years a lot of back and forth and they got the best of us this year. Arguably the best team in baseball and had a really good season. Obviously, ran away with the division and I feel it is up to us to come out and play better against these guys.’’
Having lost eight of 10 to the AL East champions this season, the Yankees certainly have to improve in the best-of-five affair, which opens Monday at Petco Park.
Emotions spilled over on Sept. 1 at Yankee Stadium when the Rays believed Aroldis Chapman buzzed Mike Brosseau’s head with a 101-mph fastball because of Tampa Bay’s habit of throwing up and in to Yankees hitters.
While no punches were thrown, the quotes made headline writers happy. Managers Kevin Cash and Aaron Boone were suspended for one game each and Chapman received a three-game ban. He appealed and it will be resolved next year.
“Obviously some drama between the two teams during the course of the season, but for me, for our group, the focus is simply on winning each and each and every day and trying to find a way to beat these guys in a five-game series and move onto the ALCS,’’ Gardner said. “Just put all of our energy and focus into that and go out and play the way we did against Cleveland and not worry about the things that happened in the past.’’
And what about seeing a Rays player in a hallway or lobby?
“I saw a few [on Friday night and Saturday morning]. Said, ‘Hey,’ and kept walking. Obviously, it’s not ideal, but it is the cards we have been dealt and I feel we got a group of guys who are very professional,’’ Gardner said before the Yankees worked out at Petco Park on Saturday. “It may not be ideal, but it is a big resort and we got a lot of space and so far it has been good.’’
Gardner said there isn’t a Ray who he would try to avoid and Zack Britton doesn’t feel there will be a need for security to referee disputes in the hotel between the teams.
“I expect both teams to be professional at the hotel. There are families there,’’ Britton said of the resort with a view of the Pacific Ocean that can’t be visited by any members of either club’s traveling party due to MLB protocols. “I don’t expect that to carry over away from the field. It is all about the competition on the field. Obviously we are two passionate teams so I don’t expect any issues in the hotel. If we see each other, a friendly nod and go about our business.’’
As far as sharing a hotel with a team his players need to get by and advance to the best-of-seven ALCS, Boone looks at it as another curveball thrown in 2020.
“It is a little unique sharing a hotel with your opponent. Baseball in 2020. The bottom line is that we have really good accommodations and I don’t expect it to be a factor,’’ Boone said. “We have our stuff to prepare for and focus on and that’s what we are trying to keep our focus on.’’
Credit: Source link