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Yanks aren't about to play chicken with Francisco

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NEW YORK (AP)

Derek Jeter looked at the front page of a tabloid, the one that had a composite photo of his smiling face atop a chicken's body and the headline ''Cluck You!''

He just shook his head.

''What happened?'' Jeter asked.

What happened was that Mets closer Frank Francisco told the New York Post this week, ''I can't wait to face those chickens'' before his team hosted the crosstown rival Yankees in a three-game series starting Friday night at Citi Field.

Jeter and his teammates were more confused by the comment than upset by it.

''I can't be insulted by something I don't understand,'' Jeter said.

With a big grin, teammate Nick Swisher added: ''I don't even know what it means. ... I don't even know what to say.''

Alex Rodriguez wanted to know what kind of chicken: ''I like mine grilled.''

Francisco did not chicken out Friday afternoon, explaining what he meant by his odd comment. He said he thinks the Yankees often protest the umpires' calls.

''I (made) a simple comment because they complain a lot for everything,'' Francisco said.

In his first season with the Mets, the closer did not pitch when the Yankees swept the Subway Series in the Bronx from June 8-10. But he told the Post he is excited to have a chance to strike out the side in the final series of the regular season between the teams.

Francisco has done it before, whiffing Jeter, Rodriguez and Jason Giambi in the seventh inning on May, 21, 2004, for the Texas Rangers.

Yankees catcher Russell Martin, who hit a game-ending homer off Mets reliever Jon Rauch on June 10, dismissed the comments.

''We'll see if we're chicken when he gets in the game,'' Martin said.

Francisco got his shot at the Yankees in the ninth. And although he didn't strike out the side, he still got the job done. The right-hander worked a scoreless inning to close out the Mets' 6-4 victory, retiring Mark Teixeira on a game-ending popup with two runners aboard for his 18th save in 21 chances.

Never has chicken played so prominent a role in a Yankees story line since the fake George Steinbrenner agreed to trade George Costanza to Tyler Chicken for a fermented chicken drink and other poultry products on an episode of ''Seinfeld.''

On Friday, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said three chicken companies inquired about sponsoring the Subway Series this weekend.

Mets manager Terry Collins isn't about to start disciplining his players for speaking their minds.

''I'm not going to hang out in the clubhouse and watch what guys say,'' Collins said. ''We're grown men. Frank, if that's the way he feels - I don't think he meant to stir the pot when we played these guys. They're good enough already. It is what it is.''

Girardi doesn't think his team needs extra motivation.

''It doesn't really mean anything,'' Girardi said. ''What means something is what you do on the field.''

Tagged: Mets, Frank Francisco, Yankees, Derek Jeter

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