NEW YORK -- CC Sabathia lost his cool over a bunt and then Jim Rice lost his cool over Sabathia’s weight.
A spat centered on Eduardo Nunez’s attempt to bunt on Sabathia grew on Friday afternoon, when Sabathia responded to comments Hall of Famer Jim Rice made on NESN.
“What is he talking about? Bunting is a part off the game,” Rice said after the Sox’ 6-2 loss to the Yankees Thursday. “You try to get on the base anyway you can. If you tell him to leave some of that chicken, that donuts and that burger weight, maybe his leg will be OK that he can field that baseball. … that’s just stupid.”
“What he has the right to do is fulfill his contract, lose some weight and go out there and pitch.”
Those were sharp words from Rice, and Sabathia didn’t take well to them.
“I just hope when I'm that age I'm not that bitter,” Sabathia told reporters, including Newsday’s Erik Boland.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi on Friday tried to paint Sabathia’s initial criticism of Nunez as a matter of competitiveness. Nunez on Thursday said he would bunt again if he had to.
“I think it’s the good that is coming out of CC, wanting to be as good in these types of games. It’s the competitor in him,” Girardi said. “And CC wants to match his best against their best. And to me it’s an old-school mentality is what it is. You know to me, things that you might have heard out of a Bob Gibson or Nolan Ryan or Roger Clemens, if you tried to bunt on ‘em in certain situations, they would get angry. So I don't think CC is trying to cause a rift or is putting the Red Sox down, I think it’s the competitiveness in CC who wants to face their best and he knows there’s a bunch of very good hitters over there. I mean, he even got to a point where he said he doesn’t like his son to bunt, so maybe he’s becoming part of the analytics world, too.”
Girardi doesn’t think Sabathia’s comments are going to bring on an onslaught of bunts, or at least, isn’t worried if they do.
“I mean we’re going to cover it,” Girardi said. “Teams have known that CC has had a knee brace for a couple of years and he’s had some knee issues. I mean other teams have tried it. It comes down to executing the bunt. And usually if you’re bunting it back to the pitcher, you’re usually out.”