Six-time All-Star Jose Bautista revealed that he is open to pitching, during Sportsnet’s Toronto Blue Jays Watch Party on Friday night.
There was never any denying that Jose Bautista was one of the best hitters of his time, as evidenced by three Silver Slugger awards, two Hank Aaron awards and twice leading the Majors in home runs. Now, it seems the former Toronto Blue Jays star is interested in showing what he can do on the mound.
The revelation came during Sportsnet‘s Blue Jays Watch Party on Friday night, to celebrate Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS versus the Texas Rangers. And while Bautista’s bat flip moment took centre stage, his comments about pitching created a buzz of their own.
Certainly, it was clear the 39-year-old wasn’t just making a throwaway comment. As per Sportsnet, he said:
"“If they had given me a chance to pitch, I would’ve taken it. (Pitching) is just always something that I’ve been obsessed with.”"
In truth, Friday night wasn’t the first time Bautista pitching had been mentioned. ESPN‘s Jeff Passan reported on the possibility at the start of last month.
At the time, Passan wrote that the 39-year-old spent the winter working out as a pitcher. His aim was to represent the Dominican Republic as a two-way player during their attempts to qualify for the Olympics.
Bautista was renowned for his throwing ability from the outfield during his heyday. How this would translate to the mound is unclear although, as per Sportsnet, he did pitch when he was younger through to his college career.
Would the six-time All-Star also use this as an attempt to return to the Majors? He last played in MLB during the 2018 season, for the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies.
In fairness to Bautista, he is under no illusion in respect of how difficult such a prospect would be. During Friday’s Watch Party, he said:
"“Pitching is pretty hard. Your arm has to be in extremely good shape.“I’m not going to sit here and try to tell anybody, let alone myself, that I’m ready to go through a major-league season as a pitcher. That’s a pretty tough task, but you never know.”"
Despite this awareness, it hasn’t stopped Bautista from at least exploring the option of pitching, a mindset which can often be associated with those who excel in their chosen profession. Examining the opportunity included seeking guidance from a former Toronto Blue Jays teammate, as he told Sportsnet:
"“Marcus Stroman lives in Tampa and he needed a throwing partner and I was happy to volunteer. We just kind of played catch with each other and he gave me some tips.”"
It made sense that Stroman would be willing to help out. The pitcher often talked about how he was inspired by Bautista’s work ethic and mindset during their time together in Toronto.
Overall, the prospect of the 2000 20th-round draft pick pitching in the Majors seems like a long-shot at best. However — pending how long it takes to control the COVID-19 pandemic — we will have a better idea if and when he pitches during the Olympic qualifiers.
What is your take on Bautista’s comments about becoming a pitcher? How realistic do you believe it is? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.