Rolling his eyes at some points and laughing at others, Mark Teixeira shook off a barrage of insults and accusations from Red Sox reliever and former teammate Vicente Padilla before Sunday night’s game.
Offended and incredulous, Teixeira responded to comments Padilla made after Saturday’s doubleheader, accusing Teixeira of mistreating his Latin teammates while they played together in Texas and also saying Teixeira once threatened to hit him with a bat.
“That’s crazy,” Teixeira said. “But I wouldn’t expect anything else really.”
The war of words first erupted after Friday night’s game, in which Teixeira hit a triple off Padilla that sealed the Yankees’ 10-8 win, when Teixeira joked about Padilla’s track record, saying if he wanted to criticize Padilla he’d have to get in line.
“He doesn’t have a lot of friends in the game,” Teixeira said. “In the NFL, he would probably be suspended by Roger Goodell for eight games or a whole season. But this is baseball.”
Following Saturday’s doubleheader Padilla fired back, telling NESN.com, “The problem is he talks about all the wrong things that others have done, but the things he’s done — against the Latinos [on the Rangers] — he doesn’t open his mouth about. He once threatened me and said he was going to hit me with a bat, and that’s when we were playing on the same team.”
Teixeira said, “If that’s the case, then I ask you guys to interview every one of my Latin teammates in this clubhouse right now and ask them. That’s why it’s funny. It’s completely erroneous.”
Padilla added that Teixeira is scared to face him and that Teixeira would “be better off playing a women’s sport.”
Teixeira joked, “I guess women’s boxing is pretty tough. I don’t know if I could handle that.”
In 18 at-bats against Padilla, Teixeira has a hit off Padilla for every time he’s been hit by him (three). Their beef dates to June 2005, when after giving up two home runs to Teixeira in three innings, Padilla beaned him in the fourth.
In 2009, when they were teammates in Texas, they clashed again.
Padilla had a reputation for dotting batters. He viewed it as being aggressive, marking his territory on the inside part of the plate. He hit 49 batters in a little more than three seasons in Texas.
Teixeira said as the two featured hitters in Texas’s lineup, he and Michael Young paid the price for it.
What turned out to be the last straw in Texas was Padilla’s Aug. 5 start against Oakland when he hit Kurt Suzuki and in return A’s starter Chad Reineke got Young. It wasn’t the beanballs, Teixeira said, it was Padilla’s reaction to Young being hit.
“They showed him laughing on the bench,” Teixeira said. “That was the last straw in Texas and he got released that day. Michael Young’s one of my best friends in baseball, so we obviously took exception every time that we get hit because of his actions. That’s putting our season and our team in jeopardy.”
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he was made aware of Padilla’s comments before Sunday night’s game. He acknowledged the history between Padilla and Teixeira, and defended Teixeira’s toughness and character.
“Tex is one of the toughest players I’ve been around,” Girardi said. “You watch what he’s played through — broken toes, bad wrist — this guy plays every day . . . There’s bad history, and a lot of times comments are said, but as far as being tough, Tex is tough.
“Tex gets along with all of his teammates. Tex’s is a good teammate. Everyone’s going to have their opinion, but Tex is a good guy and that’s the bottom line. And he’s a tough guy. And I don’t mean that in a sense that he likes to bully. I mean that he plays hurt all the time.”
Girardi said he wouldn’t worry about a Padilla-Teixeira matchup — Padilla didn’t get into Sunday night’s game — and any possible fireworks.
“Yeah, he could hurt my guy,” Girardi said. “But that’s a decision I’m going to have to make.”
The possible punishment, Girardi guessed, would be enough of a deterrent.
“You would think that with what was said, if he hits him, it’s not going to be two or three days,” Girardi said.
Asked if he’d like to see Padilla on the mound again, Teixeira said, “Game on the line, a two-run triple would be nice. Yeah.”
Asked if they could ever talk it out, though, Teixeira said, “That would be an interesting conversation.”
Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com.