27 home runs is hardly something to scoff at. For a man that had his 59 total from 2004 through 2009, that number would have been two years worth of effort. However, after leading the American League in home runs in both 2010 an 2011, Jose Bautista is no longer that man.
That number, 27, was hardly the concern for Bautista in 2012. Instead, it was 92, the number of games played that really did not sit well. To Bautista, that low number meant that he was not where he was supposed to be, helping the Blue Jays in what turned out to be a dismal season in Toronto. Even in a down year, the Blue Jays line-up was infinitely more dangerous with Joey Bats in it, as those 27 home runs attest to.
It was not that he wanted to be away from the team, but a wrist injury in mid-July forced him to the disabled list for the remainder of the season, minus two games in August during an attempted comeback. Ultimately, the home run hero would have season-ending surgery to repair the sheath in his wrist on August 29th, ending any speculation that he would rejoin the team. His season would end just as he was starting to claw his way back from a slow start, one that resulted in a .241 batting average on the season and a WAR that was half of his previous season’s total.
Now, nearly a month after the surgery, Bautista is going full bore on the road to recovery. Right now, he is working on range of motion exercises and then moving on to strengthening exercises by the end of the month. If all goes well there, Bautista will be back doing what he does best, swing a bat. And that gives him a full winter to get back to work on putting 2012 behind him and getting back to where he was in 2011, when he was one of the most dangerous hitters in baseball.
And for those who were concerned that Bautista will never be the man he once was at the plate, the slugger has this to add.
“I want to know who those people are who think I’m not going to get it back because of this particular injury,” Bautista said. “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 a 99.9 percent chance that I was going to be the same player that I ever was before the injury.”
For the Blue Jays to return to respectability in 2013, Toronto will need the old Bautista back, right in front of the new Edwin Encarnacion.