A-Rod defends taking shortcut across mound

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. 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 on Thursday.

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

“I was tired,” he said Friday. “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 on 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.”

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

“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 just something you should 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, thought 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.”

Manny will be Manny on DL

Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Manny Ramirez was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right calf.

Ramirez was injured running out a single during Thursday’s game at Cincinnati and removed for a pinch runner.

It’s the same problem that caused the 37-year-old Ramirez to miss two starts last weekend.

“It’s a recurrence of the calf, and we just have to get this thing fixed. ... The rationale is, if he’s better in a week or 10 days, we might as well do this,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said.

The 12-time All-Star is hitting .415 with two homers and 12 RBI.

To replace Ramirez on the 25-man roster, the Dodgers recalled outfielder Xavier Paul from Triple-A Albuquerque.

Around the horn

Detroit placed outfielder Carlos Guillen on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring and called up outfielder Brennan Boesch from Triple-A Toledo. Guillen, a three-time All-Star, is a former infielder for the Seattle Mariners. … Toronto activated second baseman Aaron Hill from the 15-day DL. He had been sidelined since April 8 with tightness in his right hamstring. … Minnesota placed infielder Nick Punto on the 15-day DL with a strained right-hip flexor. … Tampa Bay Rays rewarded utility player Ben Zobrist for his breakout season with a $18 million, three-year contract extension that includes two club option years. … Texas purchased the contract of top prospect first baseman Justin Smoak from Triple-A Oklahoma City and sent struggling Chris Davis back to the minors.