While Red Sox players aren’t likely to take CC Sabathia up on his threat of meeting in center field anytime soon, former Boston star Jim Rice seems ready for a fight.
The Hall of Famer, who played all of his 16 seasons with the Red Sox and now works as a studio analyst for NESN, made the team’s feud with Sabathia personal after the Yankees pitcher called out the Red Sox for bunting against him with a bum knee.
“What is he talking about? Bunting is part of the game,” Rice said on NESN. “You try to get on the base any way you can. If you tell him to leave some of that chicken, that donut, that burger weight … maybe his leg will be OK that he can field that baseball. That’s just stupid.”
Sabathia made it clear during and after the game he was not happy with the Red Sox’s Eduardo Nunez for bunting against him in the Yankees’ win Thursday night. The right-hander had also voiced his displeasure with the strategy the last time he faced Boston, which was not long after he returned from knee surgery.
Sabathia then bristled at the idea that any of Boston’s players might take issue with his thoughts, saying, “If they’ve got something to say, we can meet in center field.”
Taking the response upon himself early Friday, Rice tried to continue his rant, but was so flummoxed, he needed a minute to collect himself. His co-host Tom Caron asked if he thought there was anything wrong with Nunez bunting in that situation.
“No,” Rice said emphatically. “Not at all.
“What [Sabathia] has a right to do is fulfill his contract, lose some weight and go out there and pitch.”
The Red Sox and Yankees play three more times this weekend in the Bronx. Rice’s passionate reaction means this probably isn’t the last we’ve heard about this situation.