Bautista-Jones exchange heightens tense rivalry
Verbal sparks fly after Blue Jays' slugger responds to wild pitch with home run
TORONTO -- Tempers flared yet again Tuesday night between the Orioles and Blue Jays, signaling that their American League East rivalry is alive and well. This time it was a pair of marquee players engaging in a war of words, with Jose Bautista and Adam Jones throwing barbs at one another during and after Toronto's 13-6 win at Rogers Centre.
The latest incident began when Orioles reliever Jason Garcia threw a fastball behind Bautista in the seventh. Both dugouts received warnings, and three pitches later Bautista responded with a home run to left-center field. Bautista watched his home run from the batter's box and then punctuated his trot with a bat flip. Bautista exchanged words with several Orioles infielders before he and Baltimore outfielder Jones shouted at one another as the Blue Jays took the field for the eighth.
If you think you've heard this before, it's because it was only two weeks ago that Bautista responded with a home run after Darren O'Day threw behind him at Camden Yards.
"All right, you hit the home run, but he's got 200-some in his career, it's not his first one, it's not a walk-off, it's in the middle of the seventh inning," Jones said. "Hit it. ... Don't walk halfway down the line. Respect the game, and I know he does, but at that moment right there, he didn't. And when it happens to my team, I'm going to take offense to it."
Bautista's response was frank.
"I could care less what Adam Jones is saying," he said.
Bautista said he thought Garcia was throwing at him, plain and simple.
"You throw at me and I'm not going to forget," he said. "And if I get you right after, I'm going to enjoy it, and I did. I have no regrets about it."
The bad blood dates back to a three-game series in Toronto that took place in late June 2013. O'Day struck out Bautista to end the seventh inning in the series opener, and there was a verbal exchange between the two on their way off the field. Later in that series, Bautista hit a go-ahead homer late in the game. When the veteran slugger rounded third, he began shouting at the Orioles reliever. Last year, the emotions ran even higher when O'Day hit Bautista with a pitch that was believed to be in retaliation to a pitch that Marcus Stroman threw above the head of O's catcher Caleb Joseph.
Baltimore manager Buck Showalter was reluctant to dive into the latest installment of the drama. He said Garcia wasn't trying to hit Bautista.
"I don't want to talk about that," Showalter said. "I've got a young, 22-year-old kid that is still finding his way around the baseball. We're obviously not throwing at anybody, but you understand what it looked like."
Bautista didn't accept that explanation.
"It wasn't OK for them even though Stroman was a rookie last year," Bautista said, "and now that's their defense because this kid is a rookie? I don't buy it. I think it's all planned out and premeditated and I think that they hide behind the way that their manager acts and conducts himself on the field. They're going to continue to keep doing that until something comes down from MLB."
Jones maintained that Bautista's reaction to the initial pitch and his subsequent celebration were out of line.
"This is my team," Jones said. "I'm not going to let nobody come here and say anything to nobody on this team. It's just not going to work … [Bautista has] hit home runs, I've hit home runs against them, I've never [admired] one like he has. I've been hit by them many times. I've never said anything."