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Yankees show split sympathies for Rays

DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published September 7, 2004

NEW YORK - Two different sides of the Yankees locker room, two different takes on the Devil Rays' situation.

Catcher Jorge Posada said if a potentially damaging hurricane was bearing down on his home, he would hunker down with his family regardless of what Major League Baseball said.

But pitcher Mike Mussina appeared unmoved and responded with a terse "no comment" when asked if the Yankees should be awarded a forfeit for Tampa Bay's failure to show up for the first game of Monday's doubleheader.

Posada said he understood why Tampa Bay decided to allow players and staff to ride out Hurricane Frances with family instead of flying to New York ahead of the storm.

"I always look at it like what I would have done," Posada said. "And if a hurricane is coming and they told me to leave Friday, I would not leave. I would have stayed in Florida and hopefully leave (Monday) in the morning."

Mussina acknowledged the situation was difficult and "neither side thinks this is fun." But he added, "Could have it been handled better? Yeah, it could have been handled better. But it wasn't, so this is where we are."

Slugger Gary Sheffield, a Tampa native, said the situation was "a double-edged sword."

He said some Yankees players were upset when told the Rays could have made it to New York ahead of the storm. But when told the Rays wanted to stay with their families, Sheffield softened.

"If they would have explained that to us, maybe we would have looked at it a little differently," he said.

Catcher John Flaherty, a former Ray who still has a home in Tampa, agreed.

"Being a father of three with a wife, that would be my first priority and main focus," he said. "I don't think anybody here can fault any of the players for making sure their families are safe. Yes, it was a little inconvenient the way it worked out, but we know it wasn't done on purpose, and you move on."

RAYS BITS: Leftfielder Carl Crawford missed his fourth consecutive game with inflammation in his right shoulder. ... B.J. Upton made his first start at third base. The 20-year-old is normally a shortstop but made five errors in his first 11 major-league games. He has been the designated hitter while working pregames taking ground balls with infield coach Tom Foley.

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