Bautista speaks out

Right fielder Jose Bautista re-joined the Blue Jays for their final series of the year at the beginning of October. He took the opportunity to provide an update on his rehab from right-wrist surgery, an assessment of the club’s supposed lack of leadership and Yunel Escobar‘s eye-black stickers controversy. Associate reporter Chris Toman will have an article coming your way in the next week or so but in the meantime I wanted to provide this transcript to keep some content flowing into the blog.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @gregorMLB. I’m currently in Baltimore to help cover the Orioles/Yankees American League Division Series but once that comes to an end I’ll be back on the Blue Jays beat. This should prove to be a very busy offseason, so keep following for the latest news and rumors.

Bautista:

On the injured right wrist….
“The wrist is feeling good. I’m about four weeks out of surgery, or close to that. It’s getting the range of motion back. Still a little bit of soreness and a little bit of stiffness but it’s pretty normal considering that the point in the recovery that I’m at right now. All the rehab right now consists of getting the swelling out and getting the mobility back and the range of motion. That strengthening process begins in probably about two weeks. Some time after that, I’ll pick up the bat and start swinging.”

On Omar’s comments…
“Omar is a guy that I really respect. Being latin and having played the game for so long, at an elite level, and hoping he gets into the Hall of Fame. I respect him a lot and I do know that his intentions were not malicious when he made those comments. That being said, I can’t say that I agree with what he said.

“When it came to addressing mistakes, I see it every day. I saw it every day when I was playing and I see it on TV when I’m watching games. Maybe he didn’t use the correct words he tried to use. But I haven’t really sat down with him to know exactly where he was coming from but more importantly I’d hate to see this being used as an excuse for our record. We’re the players, we’re on the field, we’re accountable for playing good and helping to get wins. I’d hate for something like this to be looked upon as the reason we’re losing more than we would like, or should.”

On Yunel…
“I don’t think the fact that I would have been here or not would have made a big difference. There is no doubt, that what he did was not acceptable. He does regret it and he’s really had a tough time dealing with everything and if he would have had any clue that that’s the way it was going to turn out, I guarantee you he wouldn’t have done it. But at the same time, I also feel like I need to defend him.

“I know behind what he wrote, there was no ill feelings. I know Yunel personally, I’ve been to his house in Miami. I’ve seen his friends. It doesn’t correspond writing something people thought was derogatory, with his lifestyle and the people that he knows. So, for everything to be blown out of proportion like it was, just simply because of a mis-translation and because of cultural differences and things like that. I feel bad for Yunel being in that position because English is his second language and he left Cuba around eight years ago on a raft, I mean he has been through a lot. So you can’t blame him for not being able to express himself the best way.

“Other people around baseball have said it and made comments about it and it’s not right but in latin cultures and in the clubhouse where boys are being boys, stupid stuff gets said all of the time. Yeah, it should have been happening behind closed doors where nobody would get offended or take it the wrong way, it’s unfortunate that it went outside of the clubhouse. Yunel really should have thought about it better before he did something like that but I don’t think if I would have been here, I’m not going to look at him and see what he has written on his face to see if it’s okay to go on the field. Nobody is going to do that. Nobody can pay attention to that and still worry about playing good baseball.

“Some things happened, mistakes happen and hopefully we can just grow from it. Hopefully this incident will teach him different things in life that he might not have learned. Because of it, and you guys know, he’s going through different projects and different programs. So, maybe from that mistake something good will happen, he can meet somebody that he can end up helping and affect their life in a positive way. It was unfortunate but if that’s what destiny led him to the path he walked down just so he can affect one life positively then so be it.”

On the skeptics who think Bautista might not re-gain his power stroke because of the nature of the injury…
“I want to know who those people are who think I’m not going to get it back because of this particular injury. The only people that could know that are either the people who had the surgery or that do the surgery. I’ve talked to about 20 people in that position and they all seem to agree that it was 99.9% chance that I was going to be the same player that I ever was before the injury. I have no doubt that I could be ready to play in about a month, game type situations, in a Major League game. Definitely plenty of time before spring training and the start of the season.”

On Miguel Cabrera’s triple crown….
“What he has done is not a surprise to me. I think more light has been shed on it because they’re going to the playoffs. But if you look at his numbers it doesn’t look much different than it has in the past. He does that consistently every single year and he has been my top MVP candidate, if I had to choose, in the last three years alone. If he wins the Triple Crown or not I still think he deserves to be the MVP but it would be really amazing to see somebody come off with a season like that because it obviously hasn’t been done since the 60s.

“It’s not easy to do, it’s not easy to hit for average let alone the combination of average and power and runners on base has really allowed him to drive in a lot of runs. Being on a good winning team with guys that are really performing well in front of him to get on base, a lot of things have happened at the same time for him. I feel very happy.”

Do you think this team needs more veteran leadership or do you agree with Farrell that leadership has no age?
“I do agree that leadership has no age. I really don’t understand why everybody is making, in my eyes, a big deal out of that subject. It’s not something that needs to be addressed in our clubhouse. I think we have plenty of leadership on the players side, on the management side, on the ownership side, on the manager side. So, I don’t think we need any extra or additional leadership. That’s my personal opinion.”

What does this team need to make the next step?
“We need to play better. The guys that are on the field every night, at seven o’clock, we need to perform better. I can control what I do so I can really address in more detail what I can do to help this team win more games. I could have used a better on-base percentage this year. The lack of discipline at the plate early on really hurt my overall numbers when it comes to getting on base. I wasn’t getting pitched to earlier in the year, other teams were taking advantage because I kept swinging at bad pitches. So, when my teammates were on the bases for me, I couldn’t drive them in and when I needed to get on base for them I couldn’t do it enough. “

“It’s hard to point fingers at any specific area that the team needs to address just to guarantee wins. I don’t think that’s possible. But overall I think we can probably improve on anything. When you’re 20 games below .500 I think that can be a general assessment that you’re doing something wrong, something’s got to change. But the players that are on the field every day, the 25-man roster and the guys that we rely on in the Minors that are on the 40-man, we all need to be better because that’s the only thing that matters.

“We can prepare the best way ever, we can manufacture the best roster, and you can do whatever you want but when the game starts, if we don’t play good, we’re still going to lose.”

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