Yanks' Duncan still doesn't know why Rays reacted to spikes-high slide

TAMPA, Fla. -- Shelley Duncan watched video of his hard slide in the Yankees' game Wednesday against Tampa Bay and still doesn't think it was a dirty play.

The New York first baseman's slide into second base with his spikes raised sparked a bench-clearing scrum that resulted in two players and two coaches being ejected during the second inning of Wednesday's contest with the Rays.

"I saw it a couple times," Duncan said Thursday. "I still don't understand why they were as upset as they were."

Duncan, who had hinted at the prospect of retaliating for the Rays' Elliot Johnson barreling over New York catcher Francisco Cervelli last Saturday, spiked second baseman Akinori Iwamura in the right thigh and was immediately tossed.

Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon called the play "borderline criminal."

"The words that come from another team don't affect me," Duncan said. "It doesn't bother me. They won't change how I play the game. I'll continue to play the game as hard as I can. What matters to me the most is the respect of my coaching staff and my teammates."

Duncan and Yankees manager Joe Girardi talked after Wednesday's game and again before Thursday's contest against Pittsburgh. Duncan declined to discuss specifics about the conversions.

"I go out there and I try to play the game the right way," Duncan said. "I told him what I was doing, how the play went through my eyes."

Girardi had called the home-plate collision in the first game between the AL East rivals unnecessary.

Duncan said he was trying to knock the ball out of Iwamura's glove.

"I believe both instances are definitions of players playing the game hard," Duncan said.

The teams play a split-squad game Saturday in Tampa.