Alex Bregman is poking the bear once again.
You'll remember how Bregman's 2018 season ended: The Houston Astros third baseman trolled Boston Red Sox pitcher Nathan Eovaldi on Instagram during the American League Championship Series, only to have his team flame out in a 4-1 series loss. (Bregman hit .133 in the series, by the way.)
But Bregman has moved onto the 2019 season -- and once again is placing the Red Sox in his sights.
Here's what the 24-year-old said about the Houston-Boston rivalry on a recent episode of the "Going Deep with Chad and JT" podcast:
They got the better of us. A few of the guys on our team were banged up. That's not an excuse. They played really well, played really good baseball. They're well-coached. They've got a ton of good players.
But after watching the Patriots win, watching the Red Sox beat us last year -- there's no other city that I'd like to beat this year more than Boston.
You can't fault Bregman for this take: The Red Sox are the defending World Series champions, after all. To be the best, you have to beat the best.
But the All-Star's desire to knock the Sox off also is a little personal, it appears.
"We just did a reading of mean tweets from my YouTube channel -- they're all from Boston fans," he added. "Brutal."
For their part, the Red Sox aren't staying above the fray of a little trash talk, though they were slightly more subtle in their approach.
Today is Nate's birthday.
So we're just going to leave this here... pic.twitter.com/3M8Ychrocv
— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) February 13, 2019
To celebrate Eovaldi's 29th birthday, the Sox could have posted any of his highlights from the 2018 season, but to choose a strikeout of Bregman? No chance that was a coincidence.
We're all in on a Red Sox-Astros rivalry. The clubs have squared off in back-to-back postseasons, with the winner going on to a capture a World Series title both times.
Boston and Houston are two of the front-runners to win the 2019 World Series, so we could see Round 3 in October.