Oh Julian, will you ever win? During Tavarez's very solid outing yesterday (2 hits, 2 runs over 6 innings) against the supremely average Anaheim Angels of Anaheim, he managed to get into a verbal dust-up with one of the more congenial players in the league (and Red Sox 2004 WS Champ SS), Orlando Cabrera. Cabrera is probably the second most liked opponent that the Sox face (behind Millar and perhaps Trot) and a couple times during the series this weekend he was roundly applauded by fans and greeted warmly on the base paths by Ortiz, Youk and the the other remnants of the 2004 team. Julian Tavarez chose to greet him in a different manner.
With one out in the thrid and down 2-0, Tavarez threw an tailing inside fastball (in Tavarez's defense, his non-sinking fastball has some of the most movement in the league) that clipped Cabrera's jersey. Cabrera went a little bonkers and started to approach the mound on his way up the first base line. The benches cleared, order was restored and nothing more came of it the rest of the game as Country Joe Saunders silenced the Sox and the Angels won the game. Cabrera's reaction seemed a little absurd considering the game was 2-0 in the third inning and he happens to hit in front of Vlad Guerrero. Even the feisty Tavarez wouldn't be hotheaded enough to intentionally hit the player in front of one of the most dangerous players in the game during a close game in the midst of a playoff race. But, of course, with Tavarez things may be a little more complicated than they initially appear:
"It was more personal than anything," Cabrera told the Los Angeles Times. "When we were at home, after I hit a double against him in the first game, he told me at the first base line that I was getting signs from second base. I said, 'No, I don't do that.' He told me, 'You're like Julio Lugo, you like to give signs. If Lugo played for another team I would have hit him.' So it didn't take much to know he was going to hit me. I thought it was intentional. I said, 'Are you satisfied now?' "Well, Julian, allow me to posit an answer to that final query: You told Cabrera you were going to hit him the next time you saw him trying to steal signs and then you hit him. When you tell someone you're going to hit them, and then you do it, they may interpret your actions as not being an accident. Call me crazy...
Tavarez acknowledged the pair had spoken out West, with Tavarez accusing Cabrera of trying to sneak a look at the catcher's signs while at the plate. Cabrera doubled off Tavarez in the seventh inning Aug. 6. In yesterday's case, in a game that would eventually go to the Angels, 3-1, Cabrera was batting with one out and no one on base when he was hit.
"I pay bills, too," Tavarez said. "I want to pitch inside and I've got a game plan . . . I don't know what he said to me. I know he made a step. He didn't walk to first base. I don't even hit him, I hit the jersey. He is trying to say things to me, I don't know what he said. I said, 'Instead of walking to first base, why don't you just come out here so we can finish this?'
"I said to him in Anaheim when we faced him, I said, 'Listen I think you're looking [at the catcher's signs]. Every time you're hitting, you turn your face and look at the location. If you're doing that, stop doing that because I will hit you if you're doing that. Let's play the game the right way.' He said, 'No, no, I'm not doing that.'
"I ain't going to go out there and try to put guys on base for Vladi Guerrero. I ain't going to go out there and hit guys, walking guys, cause it's not good for me. Because I'm a free agent guy. I'm looking to do my job out there. I'm not looking to give up runs out there. Why does he think I'm trying to hit him on purpose?"
But that little episode was far less interesting than the manner in which he chose to explain to Cabrera why he was going to hit him. Essentially, Julian called out his own guy (Julio Lugo) in an effort to give Cabrera an example of the type of shitty play he doesn't like to see. So in typical Tavarez style, acting like a crazy nut is never enough. He has to buttress this craziness with a player-toss under the bus. Say what you will about JT, but he is never EVER dull.