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With history in mind, a show of support

During the Red Sox-Yankees series the Globe is exchanging sports columns with the New York Times.

Don Zimmer's disgust with Pedro Martinez goes back to July 7, if not before, when the Red Sox righthander's inside pitches sent both Alfonso Soriano and Derek Jeter to a New York hospital, each with what X-rays showed to be a bruised hand -- Soriano's left hand, Jeter's right hand.

Fortunately for the Yankees, both Jeter and Soriano soon returned to the lineup, but Zimmer, the Yankees' 72-year-old bench coach, and the other Yankees didn't forget. Neither did Randy Levine, the Yankee president.

With Martinez starting against Roger Clemens in yesterday's Game 3 of the American League Championship Series, the Yankees knew an incendiary situation could develop. In a conversation with Bob DuPuy of the commissioner's office earlier in the week, Levine discussed the possibility of an incident developing from two fastball pitchers who like to throw inside.

"We went through this," Levine was saying now in the Yankee clubhouse after yesterday's 4-3 victory. "He assured me they were on it. Everybody understood that this was possible."

In the fourth inning, possibility turned into reality. Martinez's fastball hit Karim Garcia, the Yankee right fielder, in the back shoulder. Garcia shouted at Martinez, but soon cooled down. In the bottom of the fourth, Manny Ramirez, apparently expecting Clemens to pitch inside in retaliation, quickly backed away from a fastball that was much more high than inside.

Ramirez, holding his bat, took a few roundabout steps toward Clemens, prompting both dugouts to empty. Martinez was standing by himself on the grass near the Red Sox dugout when Zimmer approached him and attempted to swing his left fist. Turning away, Martinez shoved him to the grass. Seeing Zimmer there, others hurried to help him as Martinez backed away.

Martinez later insisted that he likes and respects Zimmer, but when he saw Zimmer coming at him, he simply reacted.

Zimmer understandably resents a head-hunting pitcher. Before batters wore helmets, he was seriously beaned twice, once as a Brooklyn Dodger farmhand, once with the Dodgers. To relieve the pressure on his brain during surgery, two holes were drilled on each side of his skull. He rejoined the Dodgers, but he never quite fulfilled his promise as a can't-miss shortstop.

So when Zimmer suddenly was sprawled on the grass, the Yankee players worried.

"That was way out of line," said reliever Jeff Nelson, who was involved in a scuffle with a Red Sox groundskeeper in the Yankee bullpen in the ninth inning, alluding to Martinez's shove. "Whether he ran at you or not, you've got to consider the age. You can duck out of the way."

Shortly after returning to the Yankee dugout, Zimmer was seen on television with a small Band-Aid across the bridge of his nose. Minutes later, he was seen smiling and laughing.

"Andy Pettitte probably calmed him down more than anybody," manager Joe Torre said. "Andy said, `Put your arm around my shoulder, we'll pick you up.' Zimm was very upset."

When Zimmer later was surrounded by reporters in the clubhouse, he hurried away after speaking briefly. "I have nothing to say," he said. "We won, that's all that counts."

Asked if he were all right, he said, "I'm good enough to get dressed. I'm going to eat dinner -- somewhere."

That somewhere was Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where he later was taken for a precautionary examination.

Elsewhere in the clubhouse, Levine, in the absence of principal owner George Steinbrenner, was complaining about what he termed an attitude of "lawlessness" in Fenway Park.

"If somebody jumped in the bullpen in Yankee Stadium, especially a Yankee employee," he growled, alluding to the Nelson incident, he would "be arrested and prosecuted. Anybody doing that is just not acceptable. It's so far over the line, it's so outrageous, it's beyond belief."

In regard to Martinez's buzzing of Garcia and the incident with Zimmer, Levine said, "We were told that the Red Sox and Major League Baseball had their arms around this problem, but there's an attitude of lawlessness that's permeating everything that's going on here."

Minutes later, Levine could be heard in a loud exchange with Sandy Alderson, baseball's dean of discipline, in a nearby room.

When Alderson left, Levin said, "You heard it, we disagreed. He thought it was a good job of security, I didn't. Sandy seems to be in denial. Any employee in Yankee Stadium would not be yelling or physically touching a player. Sandy thinks everything went wonderfully out there today. I didn't."

When approached by reporters later, Alderson seemed more concerned with Zimmer's aggressive behavior in approaching Martinez.

"Coaches are held to a different standard than players in keeping the peace and controlling players," Alderson said. "It's important that coaches act in a supportive way."

But knowing Don Zimmer's disgust for Pedro Martinez, Zimmer thought he was acting in a supporting way -- supporting his disgust for head-hunting pitchers.

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