A-Rod took shortcut across mound

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Alex Rodriguez was just taking a shortcut, and he thinks he walked into a whole lot of unnecessary controversy.

Rodriguez was accused by Oakland pitcher Dallas Braden of breaking an unwritten rule of baseball etiquette Thursday. The slugger cut across the mound and stepped on the rubber as he returned to first base after a foul ball during the sixth inning of the Yankees' game at Oakland.

A day later, A-Rod still didn't see the big deal.

"I was tired," he said before the Yankees opened a three-game series at the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night. "It's really not that big of a deal. I've done that maybe a few dozen times. It's the shortest route. As I said yesterday, I thought it was pretty funny."

Braden didn't.

The A's starter shouted at Rodriguez after the inning ended, then continued his rant postgame, saying how disappointed he was in the slugger.

Braden tempered his comments Friday in Oakland.

"It started and ended as soon as it happened with me," he said. "It's a matter of respect. In no way, shape or form was it meant to call anyone out, or shed light on anybody's attitude or lack thereof; it's just all about one incident between himself and our squad."

There was no clear-cut decision on whether Rodriguez actually violated an unwritten rule of baseball.

Hall of Fame pitcher Don Sutton, now an Atlanta Braves announcer, took Braden's side Friday.

"No, you don't do it. It's like stealing a base when you're ahead by nine runs in the eighth inning," Sutton said in New York. "It's just common sense and common courtesy. If Bob Gibson or Don Drysdale had been on the mound, it would've been over in 15 seconds."

Braves right-hander Tim Hudson said it's not an unwritten rule, just something you know not to do.

"It'd be like going in the other team's dugout," he said. "You have to respect that it's the pitcher's place."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who studied engineering at Northwestern, said Rodriguez's jaunt made sense to him.

"I have no problem with what Alex did. I don't think Alex was doing anything malicious or trying to send a message. He just happened to run back to first base," Girardi said. "I mean, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line."

This was not the first time someone said Rodriguez had broken an unwritten rule on the diamond.

In 2007, he shouted at Toronto third baseman Howie Clark while rounding the bag on a popup. Clark backed away, and the ball dropped. The play started a baseball debate about A-Rod's actions.

But Braden distanced himself from any other on-field controversy associated with the Yankees third baseman.

"Whatever other incidents there are or whoever they might concern is none of my business," Braden said Friday. "That's between him and whoever he may or may not have offended. This team is the team he disrespected. That's the team I'm sticking up for."