Jose Bautista, as we mentioned earlier, launched his 39th and 40th home runs of the season on Monday night in the Blue Jays’ 3-2 defeat of the Yankees.
Because his previous career-high home run total was 16 and because we as baseball fans have been burned in the past by many a slugger, the 29-year-old Bautista is having to answer questions about his training methods. This from the Toronto Globe and Mail:
“Nobody’s said anything to me, and I don’t see why they should. Baseball
has a strict policy against those performance-enhancing whatever you
want to call them.
It’s not a secret and I didn’t reinvent the wheel,” Bautista continued. “I
keep saying it because it’s the truth. It’s as simple as getting [my
swing] started earlier, and I’ve got Cito and [hitting coach] Dwayne
Murphy to thank for that.”
Is it wrong that he’s forced to deal with such inquires because of the mistakes of the home run hitters that came before him? Sure. But we’re not that far removed from the steroid era, and we might not even be removed at all. Heck, Marlins catcher Ronny Paulino was busted for performance-enhancers just last week.
Let’s keep in mid, however, that baseball statistics have a tendency to spike and that every player goes through peaks and valleys. Bautista is batting .258 with a .970 OPS, 40 home runs and 95 RBI through 438 at-bats. He’s having a career year, and that is probably all that’s going on.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.