Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays gestures after getting punched by Rougned Odor of the Rangers. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Red Sox infield coach Brian Butterfield breaks down Rougned Odor vs. Jose Bautista fight

John Tomase
May 16, 2016 - 3:26 pm
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KANSAS CITY -- Brian Butterfield doesn't typically condone violence on a baseball field, but in the case of Rougned Odor and Jose Bautista on Sunday night, he'll allow it. Butterfield is uniquely qualified to dissect the play that led to Odor landing an overhand right flush to Bautista's jaw. Not only is he an infield instructor wise to the nuances of the slide that precipitated the brawl, he also coached Bautista in Toronto. "As far as the fight goes, you'd rather not see it happen, but when guys get hit and there's a history, that's going to happen every once in a while," he said. "I'm fine with it. I'm sure it's a different feeling in both of those clubhouse, but I was really fine with everything that went on." Bautista enraged the Rangers last October by authoring one of the great bat flips in history on a crucial home run in the playoffs. The Rangers waited to seek retribution until his final at-bat of the season series before drilling him on Sunday. An annoyed Bautista took first, and then slid hard and late on Odor, whose submarining relay to first practically scalped Bautista. The two got in each other's faces before Odor unloaded on Bautista's, sparking a benches-clearing melee. Butterfield first broke down the slide, which he considered borderline but appropriate. "He stayed low," he said. "He stayed below the knees. It was a firm slide, but there was nothing else, except he went beyond the base. When he started to slide, it was right around the base, so it was a little later, he was probably still pissed off. But no, I didn't think he went in there with the intent to hurt anybody. I think he was still pissed off where he wanted to make his presence felt." In that situation, Butterfield noted, Odor must hold his ground and the low throw is one way to defend himself. "Odor is in a place where he probably knows Bautista pretty good, he knows Bautista is pretty pissed off, so that's his defense mechanism," he said. "It's like, 'OK, I don't want to get [hit]. Even though there's a rule that doesn't say he can't come in and knock me ass over tea kettle, I guess I'm going to drop down a little bit to low-bridge him.'" At this point, Butterfield considered both men justified. "I didn't look at it to say, 'OK, that's his fault or his fault,'" he said. "It's a baseball game, it was a heated competition. I was intrigued by watching it. I stopped what I was doing in my bedroom at the hotel and I watched, because I wanted to see exactly what had happened, I wanted to hear the comments from both managers and they're both good men." Butterfield agreed that both of them were getting ready to throw a punch. "And one did," he said. "Jose surely would have. He was getting ready." Butterfield noted that Bautista was a good teammate in Toronto who needed to learn to corral his emotions as a younger player. "I love Jose," he said. "He was always very respectful and good to me and the other coaches. He wants to win. Sometimes his emotions get the best of him. He's had conversations about that stuff with John Gibbons. He's had conversations about that stuff with me. And he knows it. He's a lot better than he was. He's an emotional guy. He's a good kid." He's also tough as nails, because despite having his sunglasses slugged right off his face, he didn't go down. Butterfield couldn't suppress a grin of admiration. "He got hit right in that area where you get knocked out," he said. "He shook his head a couple of times and was ready to go."