Blue Jays baseball feels weird without Jose Bautista
Opening Day has come and gone as the Toronto Blue Jays begin the 2018 campaign full of hope and promise, however, there is a familiar face missing from the talented corps of Blue Jays players vying for a chance to regain baseball supremacy north of the border.
Jose Bautista spent 10 seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays after being acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates in what will go down as one of the most lopsided trades in franchise history. The slugger singlehandedly put butts in the seats at the Rogers Centre for nearly a decade when the Jays weren’t necessarily the hottest ticket in town.
The slugger’s wife tweeted out a message before the Jays season officially got underway on Thursday and the tweet struck a chord with me. Neisha Bautista thanked the Jays for the memories and expressed her love the country while admitting she did not realize how difficult the day would be.
The 37-year old Bautista is still without a contract after recent rumors about the possibility of Bautista signing with the Rays or Braves did not come to fruition. The free agent is coming off a disappointing 2017 season where he barely hit above the Mendoza Line and set a franchise record for strikeouts in a season.
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However, Joey Bats still has a flair for the dramatic and can undoubtedly boost a number of teams offensive punch especially if he is afforded the opportunity to be a designated hitter. Even in a down season Bautista still managed to slug 23 homers last year.
Father Time has definitely slowed Canada’s adopted son but it still felt weird not seeing number 19 manning his usual outfield post in right field. Bautista played 1235 games in a Blue Jays uniform and hit arguably the most dramatic home run in franchise history by somebody not named “Joe”.
In a perfect world, it would have been nice to see the Dominican Republic native retire a Blue Jay, however, we all know that baseball is a business and it was time to close the book on the Bautista chapter. Regardless it doesn’t right and we will undoubtedly see Joey Bats again when his name is unveiled on the Level of Excellence.
Next: Blue Jays give Roy Halladay proper send-off
Until then, best of luck to you and your family Mr. Bautista, thank you for everything you did on and off the field as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. Your legacy will not be forgotten.