Last season you couldn’t find the name of former six-time All-Star Jose Bautista on any MLB roster. After shuttling between three teams in 2018, the 39-year-old never received the right offer and decided to sit out the 2019 season and work on his game. Whenever the 2020 season does start, the first baseman-right fielder plans on offering his new and improved services to any interested MLB team including his role as a pitcher. Based on several videos posted online by a former teammate, Bautista might be able to do it.
Jose Bautista becomes MLB home run king
Jose Bautista made his MLB debut in 2004 with the Baltimore Orioles. By season’s end, Bautista played with the Kansas City Royals, before finishing the season with the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he would play for the next four seasons.
In 2008, Bautista headed north to Toronto, where his career took off. For the next decade, he donned a Blue Jays uniform and became an integral part of their offense. The Dominican-born slugger earned his first All-Star appearance in 2010 when he led the majors in home runs with 54. He finished fourth in MVP voting.
Bautista followed up in 2011, once again leading the league in both home runs with 43 and walks with 132. He had a career-best .302 batting average that season as well. For the next four seasons, Bautista led the Blue Jays in all power categories and in 2015 the team made the MLB playoffs.
The 2015 playoffs and Bautista’s famous bat flip
Entering the 2015 playoffs, the Blue Jays were seeking their first postseason series win in over 20 years when they faced the Texas Rangers. The Rangers opened the series strong winning the first two games in the Rogers Centre.
A shift to Texas and change of scenery is exactly what the Toronto players needed. With their backs against the wall, the Blue Jays pulled off a pair of wins against the Rangers to send the series back home to Toronto for a deciding game 5.
In that game, the Blue Jays fell behind early and trailed 2-0 in the third when Bautista put his team on the board with an RBI double to left field off Texas starter Cole Hamels that scored Ben Revere and trimmed the lead to 2-1.
Bautista took center stage in the bottom of the 7th when the Blue Jays knocked Hamels out of the game and faced Rangers pitcher Sam Dyson. With two runners on, Bautista blasted a Dyson pitch to left-center field. The home run turned out to be the game winner, but it was Bautista’s bat flip that made all the headlines.
After driving the pitch, Bautista briefly stared at Dyson before slinging the bat with his left hand toward the Rangers’ first-base dugout. It wasn’t well-received by the Rangers and others in baseball who thought the flip was unsportsmanlike and violated one of baseball’s unwritten rules about showing up the pitcher. Bautista said he just got “caught up in the moment.”
New videos shows Jose Bautista working as a pitcher
After sitting out all of 2019, Bautista has been working on his game, in particular, his fastball and slider. The two-time home run champ decided following the 2018 season he wanted to diversify his game to give himself a better chance of making another MLB roster.
Pitcher Marcus Stroman, Bautista’s former Blue Jays teammate from 2014-17, posted videos of the slugger throwing off a mound at Stroman’s house. In the videos, Bautista, who is reported to reach the mid-90s with his fastball, throws a variety of pitches, including a sinker and a slider. Stroman was impressed.
“Since y’all thought I wasn’t being serious when I said it the first time…my bro @JoeyBats19 could EASILY pitch in a big-league bullpen. Easily. Sinker, slider, and changeup are MLB ready!”
If Bautista does make an MLB roster as a pitcher in 2020, everyone will be watching to see what happens the first time he serves up a long ball. To flip or not to flip, that is the question.