Will Bad Blood Spill Over Between Tigers And Yankees At Comerica Park?

Most of the main characters remain from the melee at Comerica Park, although the faces at the top are different.

Will Burchfield
April 13, 2018 - 6:42 pm
Aug 24, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus (center) and starting pitcher Justin Verlander (left) try to get players off Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera (bottom right) after benches clear during the sixth inning.

© Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

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None of the Tigers or Yankees are expecting any carryover this weekend from last season's brawl, but there was a common caveat on Friday afternoon: You never know. 

"We came to play baseball, I hope they did too," said Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire. "That’s the way we’re going to go about our business, unless something turns different, and I don’t think it will. That was last year." 

Most of the main characters remain from the melee at Comerica Park, although the faces at the top are different. The Yankees replaced former skipper Joe Girardi with Aaron Boone, and the Tigers replaced Brad Ausmus with Ron Gardehire. Friday's game is the first regular-season encounter between the two teams since the fight. 

"They have a new manager and we have a new manager here in myself, so I don’t really know anything about it. If they wanna brawl we wanna brawl," Gardenhire said with a chuckle. "I don't know." 

The fracas was started by Miguel Cabrera when he squared off at home plate with Yankees catcher Austin Romine, but it was Gary Sanchez who threw the most punches. The Yankees slugger, who had been hit by a pitch earlier in the game after hitting his fourth homer of the three-game series, landed blows on both Cabrera and Nicholas Castellanos when they were in defenseless positions. 

Cabrera called Sanchez out after the game, saying, "If he wants to punch me again, he’s gotta be face to face." 

Sanchez, who was slapped with a four-game suspension, said on Friday he and Cabrera have since talked things out. 

"We had a good conversation," Sanchez said through an interpreter. "It was a candid conversation between us, and I definitely believe that’s in the past." 

Tigers outfielder JaCoby Jones agreed that both teams have moved on. 

"You never know with how baseball works and what’s going to happen during the game, but I don’t really think anything’s going to carry over to that extent," he said. 

In the unlikely event of another brawl, is there anyone on the Yankees roster Jones would want to avoid? Sanchez? Aaron Judge? Giancarlo Stanton? 

"Nah," he smiled, "I ain’t scared of nobody. I’ll go up against anyone, I don’t care. If I have to do something like that then I will, but I don’t think any bad blood’s going to come of it this weekend." 

In Gardenhire's experience, teams that aren't in the same division rarely harbor any ill will toward each other, particularly from one season to the next.

"It doesn’t carry over too many times. When you’re in a division like we’re in now against those teams, there’s a little bit more carryover than against all the other teams, but normally against a team outside your division it’s just one of those things," he said. 

The Yankees are just two days removed from a brawl with the Red Sox. Sanchez, who wasn't as involved as he was in the brawl with the Tigers, suppressed a smile when asked which fight was crazier. 

"I don’t know, it’s hard to say. Fights happen so quick and at the moment they’re happening everything is a blur, so you have to sit down and look at them, but I can’t really tell you," he said. 

He added, "That was last year, that’s in the past. It’s time to move on from that. It’s a new year and now it’s just a matter of playing baseball."