Jose Bautista added his voice Tuesday to the choir singing from the same page as Blue Jay spring training convenes for the 2013 season Wednesday morning.
Two years ago, Bautista committed to a five-year $65-million contract that has subsequently been valued significantly under-market, given Bautista’s continued elite production. At the time, Bautista took Alex Anthopoulos at his word that, when the time was right, the money would be there to build a contender that would endure.
“When I signed the deal, I wasn’t counting on the young guys,” said Bautista, referring to the Jays’ recent concentration on the draft.
“What I took out of that was that Alex was planning to build a contender that was going to compete in a sustainable way, year after year. Now’s he’s come through on his word. He made the moves that he said he was going to make when the timing was right.
“All the bodies are here now. So it’s all on us to perform. We love that challenge. We have a confident group of players. Hopefully we remain healthy. If that happens, the season should take care of itself. We should be in the playoffs and, hopefully, in the World Series.”
Coming off a tendon injury to his wrist that essentially knocked him out of action for the final 70 games of the 2012 season, Bautista required surgery and rehab and says he is good to go as camp approached.
“I can’t tell you it was fun,” he said. “It wasn’t about pain, just tedious doing all the rehab and the exercises. But that has come and gone and I’ve worked my butt off. It’s time to get on the field now.”
It is difficult to see any residual effect in his handful of batting practice appearances this week. He has been making hard, solid contact
“Swinging is something that builds up,” he said. “Being at this point, even if I didn’t have that surgery or that injury, I still wouldn’t be at 100% in pre-season. It builds up starting now. You’ll get to that point before the season starts where you’re ready to go, you’re bat is at full speed and, more importantly, you’re seeing the ball and hitting it. That’s what spring training is all about.”
Spring training is also about eternal optimism but the off-season moves that added five premium players — Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera, Josh Johnson, R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle — to go with what was already a solid lineup when healthy.
Bautista expects Jays to be in the playoffs
Toronto Sun | Feb 13