The New York Yankees say Randy Johnson deliberately threw at Jim Leyritz in Wednesday night’s game in the Kingdome and they’re planning to get even.
Leyritz was hit under the left cheek by a 96 mph fastball delivered by the 6-foot-10 Johnson, but it was a glancing blow. The Yankees catcher raised his left arm just in time and the ball deflected off the wrist into Leyritz’s face.
The scary incident precipitated a 10-minute melee of Mariners and Yankees, with both benches and both bullpens coming onto the field. Nobody took a punch at Johnson - yet.
Leyritz escaped with a sore wrist and sore face. He promised revenge. “We’ll take care of him one way or the other. He’s got to go out in public somewhere,” Leyritz said.
If the Mariners’ rotation stays as planned, Johnson is scheduled to make a start at Yankee Stadium June 10. Seattle will be in New York for a three-game series June 9-11.
Leyritz said Johnson threw at him in retaliation for Steve Howe hitting Felix Fermin in the left elbow in the eighth inning when Seattle rallied for a 7-3 win Tuesday night.
“There’s certain ways of handling those things,” Leyritz said. “I don’t believe in throwing at somebody else because you might ruin somebody else’s career. I don’t believe in hurting somebody when they’re not at fault.”
Although Johnson doesn’t bat because the American League has the designated hitter, he better be careful in the future when he faces the Yankees, Leyritz warned.
“There’s a time and place for everything,” he said. “He just better hope he doesn’t see me out anywhere.”
Johnson, one of the hardest throwers in baseball and the game’s strikeout leader the past three seasons, infuriated the Yankees when he calmly walked over to the third-base line to pick up the baseball that hit Leyritz, ignoring the player who lay writhing in the batter’s box.
Yankees manager Buck Showalter was ejected by home-plate umpire Terry Tschida for arguing too strongly for Johnson’s ejection. After Leyritz got up, Showalter needed all his strength and some help from other Yankees to stop him from getting to Johnson.
“People lose sight of the courage it takes for players to go into the batter’s box,” Showalter said.
Johnson refused to talk about the incident.
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