Odor thriving in unique atmosphere

Odor thriving in unique atmosphere

TORONTO -- Rougned Odor knew exactly what kind of reception he was going to receive in Toronto on Friday night against the Blue Jays. Not just in this series, but maybe for the rest of his career as a Ranger.

It doesn't bother him in the slightest.

"I like it," Odor said of the booing before the game.

His ninth-inning, three-run home run to bring Texas back within one run in Friday's 7-6 loss supported the 23-year-old's belief that he thrives in environments like Toronto.

Odor wasn't greeted with your typical introductory boos, either. They were droning, continuous boos that crescendoed with every pitch he faced all game long. Odor says that he feels comfortable in those moments, though, comparing it favorably to the time he's spent playing in Venezuela, where crowds nearly half the size produce just as much intensity toward the players.

"That's why I feel normal. I feel like it's another game," Odor said. "I feel normal because I've been playing in Venezuela for Navegantes, one of the best teams in Venezuela, and every time we play against Caracas, the stadium is full and they yell at you a lot."

Odor has been at the forefront of the rivalry between Toronto and Texas since his punch to the jaw of Jose Bautista on May 16 of last year. That incident sparked tensions that have carried through Toronto's sweep of the 2016 American League Division Series and into this season.

"He's a competitor. He loves the competition," said manager Jeff Banister. "He loves being in those spots. That doesn't faze him."

Despite Friday's spotlight, Odor insists he treats these games against the Blue Jays the same as any other. He also says that he gives no thought to what's happened in or around the rivalry already, responding simply, "I don't know," when asked about Bautista's bat flip in Atlanta recently that caused more controversy.

"I have a couple friends on that team, too," Odor said, listing closer Roberto Osuna and left fielder Ezequiel Carrera, a fellow Venezuelan who played on Navegantes del Magallanes with Odor in 2013 and 2014. "I just want to be the same person that I've always been in the field and play how I play all the time."

Keegan Matheson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.