Throwing at a batter is one thing. The question is: Did Wilson Alvarez throw at an umpire?

Plate umpire John Shulock thought so after being hit flush in the mask by a fastball on Alvarez's final pitch Monday night for the Devil Rays.

"The more I think about it, I think he did it intentionally," said Shulock, unhurt in the Angels' 10-5 victory. "I can't prove it. But I'm upset, and I have a right to be."

It has been a difficult year for major league umpires, and Shulock, a member of the American League staff since 1979, became the latest umpire to find himself in the middle of a controversy.

In the early innings, Shulock's ball-strike calls drew objections from the Devil Rays' dugout. But the trouble really began when Alvarez, already trailing 7-1, threw a 1-1 pitch to Angels C Matt Walbeck in the third inning. Devil Rays C Mike DiFelice barely raised his mitt, and the ball squarely struck Shulock.

"Mike called for a fastball away, and I threw one that went down the middle," Alvarez said. "And it hit him. I wasn't trying to hit him. Those things happen."

Shulock methodically straightened up and slowly began to make his way toward the mound. DiFelice caught up with Shulock as Devil Rays Manager Larry Rothschild came out of the dugout. Shulock and Alvarez briefly argued, but the umpire did not eject the pitcher.

NEW MAN FOR YANKEES: Mark Newman, sought by other teams for general manager vacancies, has been appointed director of baseball operations for the Yankees.

Newman's promotion, which has not been officially announced by the Yankees, makes him second in the team's hierarchy behind owner George Steinbrenner.

GETTING AHEAD: The AL Central champion Indians will begin selling World Series tickets at 8 a.m. EDT Saturday by telephone and the Internet through TicketMaster. The club plans to sell about 10,000 tickets, or about 3,300 each for the third, fourth and fifth games of the World Series.