Jose Bautista Feels Everything Started Clicking At The Plate In September Of 2009, Feels Toronto Has Championship PotentialMay 23, 2011 – 7:00 am by Steven Cuce
There are very few examples of a utility player who looked destined to be a journeyman transforming himself into arguably the most dangerous man in baseball. Jose Bautista is on that short list. Bautista arrived in Toronto during the middle of the 2008 season from Pittsburgh after Cito Gaston and Dwayne Murphy took a gamble on the left-handed slugger they believed possessed an enormous amount of untapped potential. Bautista has shattered even the loftiest of expectations from the Toronto front office, and in the process earned himself a new contract from the club he shares a reciprocal belief in.
Last season Bautista shocked the baseball community by crushing 54 home-runs while driving in 124. This season has been no different for Bautista, already going yard 18 times, which leads all MLB hitters. Last year Bautista was often criticized for being an all-or-nothing type of hitter in terms of just hitting a home-run every time up or striking out , but this year he’s the best all around hitter in baseball with a .353 batting average as well. He strikes fear in opposing pitchers every time he steps to the plate. The Blue Jays hope Bautista is the centerpiece for a baseball resurgence in Toronto. We’ll let him explain why, but the turning point for Bautista’s batting transformation seemingly came late in the 2009 season.
Jose Bautista joined The Fan 590 in Toronto with Jim Lang and Greg Brady to discuss why he chooses not to set personal goals during the off-season, what he can share about his approach at the plate, the point where everything just clicked for him when he arrived in Toronto, being a clubhouse leader and wanting to stay in Toronto for the rest of his career.
Do you set personal goals for yourself in the off-season and have you met them so far in the first two months of the season?
“I actually don’t. I always felt when you set goals you could either underachieve them or didn’t think enough about yourself. I just try to take it one day at a time, work on my consistency and my approach and hope for good results and see where I am at at the end of the year.”
Blue Jays fans are really interested in your focus and approach at the plate. At what point in the pitchers release do you know it’s a pitch that you can mash?
“That’s hard to say, but I am picking it up very well. I am picking up stints (editor’s note: we listened to this multiple times and he seemingly says stints, although we’ve never heard that word in this context) and sometimes pitches out of the pitchers hand. That’s why I have been able to lay off the pitches out of the zone and really just swing at the strikes.”
Was there a point when you arrived in Toronto where everything just clicked for you personally?
“Yeah definitely. It was probably September of 2009. That’s when I started feeling really good about the changes I had done to my hitting approach and my swing. After being traded here by this organization, Cito Gaston and Dwayne Murphy, it took me about a full year to start feeling better or good at the plate. I started seeing positive results and it was a tough transition, but I managed to deal through it. I’m feeling very good results from it.”
Your teammates say you have great leadership qualities and they look for you to set the tone in the clubhouse? What are your thoughts on that?
“Well that’s nice to hear and it’s something that kind of humbles you, but I’m going to try to do as good as I can with that role that I guess the guys are looking up to me for and lead by example basically. I’m not going to try to tell anybody what to do. I think everyone can police themselves once they get to the big leagues for the most part as long as everybody is ready to go at seven o’clock on a day-to-day basis. Everybody is going to be happy. We just gotta be ready to play when the game starts and take it from there.”
We get the impression that you don’t want to be anywhere, but Toronto in your career now?
“That’s exactly why I signed the contract and knowing that the team wanted me here as well is probably one of the nicest thing sthat could have happened to me, but ultimately what lead me to staying here and committing long term was the chance that I know we’re going to have hopefully this year, but if not in the near future to be fighting for those championships and then being in the playoffs because we have a young core of players that are talented that could definitely take us there.”