In real speed Mark Teixeira’s play at the plate with Bobby Wilson looked hard, but clean, and in a half dozen replays it looked the same.
I remember Bo Jackson absolutely launching himself into Rick Dempsey of the Indians in a play at the plate in 1987, which caused barely a ripple [other a broken bone or two and a spot on the DL for Dempsey]. And tonight wasn’t anywhere near the zip code of Ray Fosse/Pete Rose.
“It’s not like I propelled myself into him,” said Teixeira, a claim backed up by replay.
Still, Joe Girardi and then Teixeira were all but cross examined about the play after the game.
“I’ve been run over a lot of times and hard slides…it’s a part of the trade,” said Girardi, who recalled John Kruk as giving him the hardest shot he ever took, one that broke his nose. “Your job as catcher is to block the plate and try to keep the run from scoring. Sometimes you get run over. I have had my nose broken, my shoulder separated. It’s all part of the game as a catcher.”
Part of the plate was exposed but from Teixeira’s point of view, Wilson had the ball and was turning toward him to make a tag. Teixeira arrived at the plate at about the same time Bobby Abreu's throw did from the outfield but what Teixeira didn’t see was the throw bouncing high, causing Wilson to raise his head. As he did, Teixeira slammed into him, leading with his left shoulder.
“As soon as I came around third I picked up Jorgie [Jorge Posada] who was telling me to slide, it was going to be a close play,” Teixeira said. “I saw he was on the plate but I saw he didn’t have the ball yet so I started to kind of get down to make my slide and as soon as he turned toward me, I figured he had the ball and in that instance the only choice I have really is to lower my shoulder and try to knock the ball loose.”
Teixeira said had Wilson not been turning, he might have attempted some kind of hook slide.
“If he’s not going toward me, that’s what I was going to do,” Teixeira said. “You can kind of see I kind of went down, I was going to do one of those side slides, but as soon as he started going toward me I figured he had the ball, he was going to block the plate so…”
Teixeira did come off as cold when he went back and made sure he touched the plate for a 3-1 lead, never glancing at Wilson, who was sprawled in the dirt.
But the two were briefly teammates in late 2008 when Teixeira was here and Wilson was September callup.
“He’s a great kid,” Teixeira said. “Before the game I told him best of luck and good luck this year. I feel terrible that he got hurt but it’s not about trying to hurt him, it’s about trying to score the run and knock the ball loose.”
Angels manager Mike Scioscia, a veteran of a few home plate impacts himself, saw it the way the Yankees did.
“Clean play,” he said.