Gil LeBreton

The Odor-Bautista fight: Notes from ringside

Here at ringside, I made one final glance at my day’s notes.

"Wilhelmsen!!!" was one of them – with extra exclamation points.

Tom Wilhelmsen, indeed, was a lucky man Sunday. His latest display of subpar work out of the Texas Rangers bullpen became lost in the postgame chatter about the Odor-Bautista fight.

Wilhelmsen coughed up the lead in the sixth inning by allowing four hits and three runs. His earned run average is now 9.98 which, coincidentally, is starting to look like a taxi fare to the airport.

Veteran Wilhelmsen, who was routinely outstanding for five seasons in Seattle before being acquired in a trade, is being paid $3.1 million this season. He has given manager Jeff Banister no reason, other than that, to continue to use him in meaningful game situations.

But back to my notes . . .

"Cesar Ramos . . . Hail Cesar."

Summoned as a spot starter, the 31-year-old journeyman lefty exceeded all reasonable expectations and allowed only one run in four-plus innings.

But Ramos’ contribution, too, was lost in the din of the bench-clearing altercation.

Too bad. I already had a long list of unfortunate "Cesar" lines that I was prepared to use. A brief sample:

"All runs were rendered to Cesar." (insert groans here)

"He turned the mound into Cesar’s palace."

"When he left the game, an entire group of fans – the Cesarian section – stood and cheered."

I know. Back to the notes . . .

"Last game."

Still can’t see why Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons chose the should-have-hit-Jose-sooner defense to present his side of the day’s events.

Why would the Rangers retaliate for the Jose Bautista bat flip during the earlier series in Toronto, when their last visit there was lowlighted by a cursing, bottle-throwing fan uprising, which likely itself fueled the bat flip? That would have been imprudent.

So manager Jeff Banister waited and maybe suddenly realized that he had as good a scenario to get back at Bautista as the Rangers were going to get this time – namely, he had the lead, nobody on base, and a 97-miles-an-hour reliever on the mound with pinpoint command of his fastball.

A poor choice to involve Matt Bush? Not at all. For one – you’ve seen the games -- there was no guarantee any of the other Rangers relievers could have delivered the pitch on target.

For another thing, it provided a team baptism, almost literally, for the new guy Bush.

The clubhouse tradition is for the pitchers to reward a guy who gets his first career win with a postgame beer shower. Given Bush’s personal situation, however, the Rangers left out the beer part and took the 30-year-old rookie into the shower and doused him with water and the bullpen’s beverage of choice, Red Bull.

Bush emerged soaked from head to socks, but smiling broadly.

Did someone order him to intentionally throw at Bautista’s ribs?

All protestations to the contrary, of course someone did. It’s unthinkable that a guy, less than a year out of the slammer, pitching in his second big league game, would take it upon himself to do something so salty.

Managers and pitchers always deny that a retaliation pitch was intentional. Public confessions bring stiff fines and long suspensions.

Last note on the page . ..

"Odor being Odor."

Yes, Rougned Odor himself is just the kind of guy who used to go barreling into second base with the intent to disrupt. Look at his slide on the final weekend last season when he spiked the Angels’ Joey Giavotella.

But the rules have changed. Late, hard slides are now illegal, which is why Bautista cost his team Sunday by turning his personal agenda into an umpire-ruled double play.

By the way, Odor sought out Giavotella last year and apologized for his high-spikes slide. I’m guessing that Bautista hasn’t apologized to anyone lately.

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