Hank Steinbrenner says teams should not 'forget who subsidizes a lot of them'

The acrimony between the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays took on a new edge Friday, after Major League Baseball handed down its punishment for Wednesday's melee between the two teams.

This time, Yankees general partner Hank Steinbrenner took up the charge, reaffirming the front office's support of manager Joe Girardi, backing the players and making a comment that clearly was directed at the small-market Rays.

"I don't want these teams in general to forget who subsidizes a lot of them, and it's the Yankees, the Red Sox, Dodgers, Mets," he said to The New York Post. "I would prefer if teams want to target the Yankees that they at least start giving some of that revenue sharing and luxury tax money back. From an owner's point of view, that's my point."

Steinbrenner, again exhibiting his penchant for verbal jabbing, said he has been pleased by the Yankees' team-first mentality this spring, and did not want to comment on Shelley Duncan's slide -- the one that prompted the Wednesday skirmish.

"Girardi has his players' back and I have his back and that's never going to change," Hank Steinbrenner said to The Post.

"There are going to be problems, especially if they go after our stars," Steinbrenner added. "It's not going to be tolerated. We never have done it to them. It's just not going to happen anymore."

The Yankees and Rays face each other again Saturday afternoon at Legends Field in a split-squad game. The dispute between the teams started last Saturday, when Rays infielder Elliott Johnson slammed into Yankees catching prospect Francisco Cervelli at home plate. Cervelli broke his wrist and is out for 10 weeks.

On Wednesday, Duncan went spikes-up as he slid into Akinori Iwamura at second base, which caused the benches to clear and Jonny Gomes to rush in from right field to tackle Duncan. On Friday, the commissioner's office issued fines against Girardi, third-base coach Bobby Meacham and hitting coach Kevin
Long; suspended
Yankees center fielder Melky Cabrera and Duncan for three games each; and suspended Gomes for two games.

Cabrera said on Saturday he most likely will be appealing his suspension.

"All I can tell you is that I will support everything he does, and that will never change," Steinbrenner said of Girardi. "Because this is the manager I wanted, and that's not anything against Joe Torre. That's the manager we wanted at that time. Times change."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.