In the latest exhibit of Jose Bautista's reputation as one of MLB's most antagonizing players, benches cleared Wednesday night after the Atlanta Braves took exception to the Toronto Blue Jays star's home run theatrics.
Down five runs in the top of the eighth inning at SunTrust Park, Bautista launched a 2-2 Eric O'Flaherty sinker into the stands in left-center field, standing at home plate and staring toward the lefty reliever before flipping the bat away with an exaggerated toss.
Braves first baseman Jace Peterson said something to Bautista as he rounded first, and catcher Kurt Suzuki was waiting for Bautista when he touched home. Dugouts emptied, though no punches were thrown.
"It's not even about winning anymore," O'Flaherty told reporters after the game. "Guy wants to celebrate a home run in a five-run game, pimp it, throw the bat around...I dunno, I mean, it's frustrating as a pitcher. I didn't see it at the time, but I saw the video. He looked at me, tried to make eye contact. It's just tired. We've seen it from him enough."
He added with a laugh, "I'm surprised he's ready to fight again after last year."
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For his part, Bautista was apologetic afterward.
"I understand why [the Braves] would be upset in that situation, and I just told them how I felt," he said, according to the Toronto Sun. "Basically just let them know that I wasn't trying to show up anybody and hopefully it's in the past. It has nothing to do with [frustration], but it was definitely not something that was fitting for the moment.
"Sometimes our competitive juices come out in the wrong moment. We have to deal with it between the lines like men -- I feel like I did that and hopefully that's enough."
-- Brendan C. Hall