Opinions differ on home-plate collision

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Angels had differing opinions Friday night about the violent collision at home plate that left rookie catcher Bobby Wilson sprawled in the dirt with a concussion and an injured ankle.

Was it a clean play from Mark Teixeira, the ex-Angel who had been hit by an Ervin Santana fastball a couple of minutes before he slammed into Wilson's chest in the third inning?

According to Angels manager Mike Scioscia, long known as a defender of the plate in his catching days, it was perfectly acceptable. After the Angels beat the New York Yankees, 6-4, Friday, Scioscia had no public beef with Teixeira.

"I think [Teixeira] just reacted and thought they only chance was if he dislodged the ball from Bobby. The ball, I think, beat him. It's not like there's no play and the ball's way out there and cut off and you're taking some kind of shot," Scioscia said. "That was a clean play."

Scioscia made that pronouncement after telling reporters that Wilson would be put on the 15-day disabled list on the night he made his first major league start, replaced on the roster by 30-year-old rookie Ryan Budde. It was the second time in five nights the Angels had lost a catcher to injury. Jeff Mathis broke his right wrist when a pitch bounced Monday night, leaving Mike Napoli as the Angels only established backstop. That could become an issue, because Napoli has been struggling with many of the defensive areas of catching.

Santana wasn't entirely convinced Teixeira's motives were pure.

"I don't know, because he can score easily, so I don't know," Santana said. "Maybe he tried to hit him or something, because I just hit him."

Whichever side you believe, that play raised the emotional stakes a chip or two and, when the Yankees are in town, the buy-in starts pretty high. Kendry Morales made sure the Angels weren't feeling beaten down afterward by launching a game-winning two-run home run off Joba Chamberlain in the eighth inning and Angels closer Brian Fuentes -- the focus of questions about his job security -- made it stand up with a perfect ninth inning.

A crowd of 44,002 at Angel Stadium made for an electric atmosphere. Teixeira has been booed here ever since he took the Yankees' money two winters ago, but the vitriol was a bit more raucous after the third inning.

Teixeira had reached first base when he took a 91-mph Santana fastball off the '5' on the back of his jersey. Teixeira reached second on Alex Rodriguez's single. When Robinson Cano lined a single to right, Bobby Abreu unleashed a two-hopper to the plate.

Wilson had to scoot up the first base line to get the ball and left the plate unblocked, but Teixeira apparently had already made up his mind to force a collision. He raised his arms to brace for it and caught Wilson just as he was lunging back toward the plate to gather a bad hop.

The collision was violent and loud. It sent Wilson spinning backward, where he doubled over his left leg and hit his head in the dirt. He was taken to Chapman Medical Center for a CT Scan and X-rays. He had a concussion and ankle sprain.

Scene and heard

Some Angels pitchers found Thursday's verbal confrontation between Oakland Athletics' pitcher Dallas Braden and the Yankees' Rodriguez amusing. The replay of the incident, sparked by Rodriguez jogging over the pitcher's mound when he returned to first after a foul ball, played in the Angels' clubhouse.

Scott Kazmir and Jered Weaver both found Rodriguez's choice of a path unusual. Neither had ever seen a player cross directly over the mound en route to a base.

"It's kind of weird that he would go up the hill like that, but I probably wouldn't have made that big a deal about it," Kazmir said. "I can see how he'd get upset, because he was getting on the mound and getting ready when he crossed right by him."

Weaver said he gave Braden credit for speaking his mind but questioned his target.

"At the same time, I wouldn't want to give that guy more incentive to try and hit a home run off me," Weaver said.

Quote of the day

"I don't remember too many of my collisions. I usually got the wrong end of them." -- Scioscia.

Looking ahead

Joel Pineiro (2-1, 1.77 ERA) sparked a rebirth in the Angels' pitching rotation when he worked seven stalwart innings at Yankee Stadium April 14. Pineiro struck out seven Yankees and didn't walk a batter.
Saturday's game will be a good test of Pineiro's ability to handle a tough American League lineup the second time the hitters see him. When the Angels signed him off a career-reviving season in St. Louis, some people questioned how he would transition to the tougher league.

The Angels face Andy Pettitte (2-0, 1.35), who is off to a great start in his 16th season. Pettitte shut out the Angels for six innings in New York the day before Pineiro pitched.

Mark Saxon covers the Angels for ESPNLosAngeles.com.