Riding on a bus through New England, Shane Opitz watched on a teammate’s phone as Rougned Odor shoved Jose Bautista and hit him with a right cross in Sunday’s game between the Rangers and Blue Jays. In that moment, he was taken back to his own run-in with the rowdy Rangers infielder.
“I mean, it’s just the same thing he did five or six years ago,” said Opitz, who Odor took a swing at when both were playing in the minors in 2011. Opitz hit Odor with his glove on a return throw to the pitcher during that game, which apparently set the Venezuelan off.
“I thought he had kind of learned from the first situation and maybe he realized that (was going) too far, but I guess not.”
Following Sunday’s dustup on the diamond, the video from Odor vs. Opitz resurfaced, bringing Opitz — an infielder in the Blue Jays system — back to his own scrap with Texas’ second baseman.
“I started thinking back to what happened with us. I was in Vancouver and was 19 and it was my first season in pro ball so I didn’t necessarily have a gauge for what was a dirty slide,” Opitz told the Daily News. “So when we were playing them, he slid in and I didn’t even know it was a dirty slide at the time and I’m just throwing the ball back to the pitcher and all of a sudden he just comes back speaking Spanish — which I didn’t and still don’t speak a word of — so I had no idea what was going on. He pushes, throws a punch and then runs away behind his whole team right after. And then he does the same thing to Bautista.”
Odor — whose dirty play has come under a microscope following Sunday’s run-in with Bautista — said Monday that he expects to be suspended but claimed that he was trying to protect himself from Bautista and had no regrets about his actions.
Opitz said he’s been peppered with questions about Odor since Sunday, and told The News that he “didn’t even know what was happening” when Odor charged at him in Spokane, Wash.
“Everybody wants to talk about him being some kind of tough guy when it’s really not that hard to throw a punch and then get behind your whole team,” said Opitz, who’s playing for the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats in the Eastern League.
Even though he mixed it up with Odor, Opitz was still shocked by how quickly things turned on Sunday.
“I’m surprised because I just don’t understand it,” Opitz said. “If you want to fight somebody you don’t need to fight them on a baseball field and surprise them with a punch; no one is expecting you to throw a punch. This is not a good look.”
While it’s not a good look for Odor, Opitz does think that Bautista and Jays teammates Josh Donaldson and Kevin Pillar were able to walk away from the incident with their reputations in tact.
“The guys who deserve respect in this whole situation are Bautista, Pillar, Donaldson and the rest of the Blue Jays coming to have Bautista’s back,” said Opitz. “That’s what it comes down to because anybody can throw a punch but not everyone can take one and keep wanting to fight.”
For his part, Opitz said that his fighting days are behind him and that Odor was the last person to take a swing at him.
“It’s just unfortunate that I couldn’t chase him down when he was running away,” he said.
Bernie Augustine nydailynews.com – Video: Tim Lewis Sports
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