RED SOX INSIDER

Tomase: Graterol's antics another reminder of what Sox are missing

RED SOX INSIDER
Brusdar Graterol drew the Padres' ire Wednesday night when he exuberantly celebrated a home run-saving Cody Bellinger catch.
USA TODAY Sports photo

As if Red Sox fans needed more reasons to bemoan Brusdar Graterol's success in Los Angeles, here's another: he apparently hates Manny Machado as much as they do.

The demonstrative fireballer played a featured role in the highlight of the postseason on Wednesday night, celebrating Cody Bellinger's home run robbery in center by flinging his equipment around the field before waving goodbye to Machado when the Padres third baseman objected.

It was just the latest display of emotion from the husky 22-year-old setup man, who has rapidly become a fan favorite in L.A., thanks to his 100-mph fastball, wipeout slider, and joyful exuberance.

"He loves to have fun, but he's definitely fierce on the mound," teammate Mookie Betts told Ken Rosenthal on the FS1 broadcast. "You saw he showed some emotion, too. He's pretty much everything you could ask for. He's a great teammate, great competitor, and great person."

This is relevant to the Red Sox, of course, because they reworked the February mega-deal that sent Betts to Los Angeles once they got a look at Graterol's medicals. Instead of taking him from the Twins, they asked for a different prospect, which ended up being infielder Jeter Downs, and the Dodgers kept Graterol.

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L.A. has no regrets, though his enthusiasm may have gotten the best of him on Wednesday, because tensions between the division rivals are already running high, and Graterol inflamed the animosity during a 6-5 victory in Game 2 of the National League Division Series.

 

He entered in the top of the seventh to protect a 4-3 lead with two outs and the go-ahead run at the plate in the form of MVP candidate Fernando Tatis Jr. Graterol left a 99-mph fastball belt high and Tatis did not miss, driving it to deep center where Bellinger, the defending NL MVP, scaled the fence to rob him of the two-run homer.

Graterol's reaction was priceless. First he hurled his glove towards the dugout. Then he thrust both arms over his head and pointed at the heavens before pounding his chest and flinging his cap. Machado took exception to the display with expletives from the third-base line.

Graterol yelled back and then gave him a dismissive wave goodbye as players poured out of both dugouts. The Dodgers shouted vociferously at Machado, who had flipped his bat after homering earlier in the game. The normally low-key Betts was particularly hot.

"When he hit his home run, he threw the bat and this, that and the other, and then we take one away, we can celebrate, too," Betts told Rosenthal. "There's got to be two sides to it, and that was just what I was saying."

Graterol's work wasn't done. Machado led off eighth with a sharp groundout as part of a 1-2-3 frame before closer Kenley Jansen and former Red Sox right-hander Joe Kelly made things interesting in the ninth.

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With Jansen struggling this postseason and Kelly all over the place, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has suggested he's willing to give someone else a try in the ninth. Perhaps Graterol's leverage is about to increase.

If that's the case, maybe it's for the best that the Red Sox decided they didn't want him. He clearly belongs on the big stage, and he doesn't care whom he offends once he gets there.