Former Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista returns to the house he helped build for the past decade as the New York Mets are in town to take on the hometown Jays for a two-game set.
Love him or hate him but there is denying that Jose Bautista put baseball back on the map north of the border and Blue Jays fans will undoubtedly pay their respects tonight as the slugger steps into the batter’s box for his first at-bat.
Joey Bats epitomized clutch and still lays claim to being responsible for uniting a nation with a single bat flip. The home runs, the swagger and his off-field contributions in the community are just a few of the reasons that Bautista was the bearded face of the franchise for nearly ten years.
However tonight, Bautista will be seated in the first base dugout in enemy territory as the Mets do battle with the Blue Jays. It will be a little surreal to witness Bautista in Mets pinstripes while playing in his familiar right field although Bautista has played more left field than right since joining New York.
The always pragmatic John Gibbons knocked it out of the park when asked by reporters if he thought Bautista would receive a loud standing ovation from the Blue Jays faithful. Gibby quipped “Well, Ryan Goins got one.”
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The Dominican Republic native swatted 288 home runs in a Jays uniform after resurrecting his career in Toronto. He sported a 37.0 WAR during his decade in Toronto and will one day be enshrined on the Level of Excellence when he finally decides to hang them up.
The outfielder is currently hitting a respectable .250/.418/.476 line with three homers and 24 walks in 36 games with the Metropolitans.
If I were a betting man, I would wager the ovation Joey Bats receives will be one of the loudest ovations the Rogers Centre has seen in a long, long time. Bautista was beloved by many, an icon, a folk hero of sorts for many years not only in the city but the entire country. Expect it to get loud and emotional.
Welcome home, Jose!