Lost in Cole Hamels saying his decision to intentionally hit Bryce Harper was “old school” is that someone who’s actually old school thinks he should have been suspended for longer than five games.
Jim Leyland, who’s 67 years old with 21 years of big-league managing experience and a World Series title, told Jason Beck of MLB.com that “five games is way too light, in my personal opinion.”
Leyland called Hamels “a very good pitcher” and “a very talented guy” but noted “that ball could have missed, hit [Harper] in the head or something else like that.” And the Tigers manager was also bothered by the “braggadocious way” in which Hamels admitted to the plunking being intentional.
It’s a moot point, as Hamels has already decided to serve the five-game suspension and will essentially just have his next start pushed back by one day, but when “old school” is being thrown around as some sort of absolute state of mind it’s interesting to hear from a baseball lifer like Leyland on the subject.
José Bautista hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2018 but the 39-year-old isn’t done playing just yet. Last month, we learned via a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan that Bautista is hoping to come back as a two-way player. He spent the winter working out as a pitcher.
Bautista had also been working with former Blue Jays teammate Marcus Stroman. Back in January, Stroman tweeted, “My bro @JoeyBats19 is nasty on the mound. We been working working. All jokes aside, this man can pitch in a big league bullpen. I’ll put my word on it!”
In March, Passan added some details about Bautista, writing, “I’ve seen video of Jose Bautista throwing a bullpen session. Couldn’t tell the velocity, but one source said he can run his fastball up to 94. His slider had legitimate tilt — threw a short one and a bigger bender. @STR0 said in January he could pitch in a big league bullpen.” Stroman retweeted it, adding, “Facts!”
Stroman reiterated his feelings on Tuesday. He tweeted, “Since y’all thought I wasn’t being serious when I said it the first time…my bro @JoeyBats19could EASILY pitch in a big league bullpen. Easily. Sinker, slider, and changeup are MLB ready!” Stroman attached a video of Bautista throwing a slider, in which one can hear Stroman calling the pitch “nasty.”
Stroman attached another video of Bautista throwing a glove-side sinker:
Replying to a fan, Stroman said Bautista’s body “is in better shape than 90-95% of the league.”
I am not a scout and won’t pretend to be one after watching two low-resolution videos. And Stroman’s hype is likely partially one friend attempting to uplift another. That being said, I’ve seen much worse from position players attempting to pitch. It’s a long shot, especially given his age, that Bautista will ever pitch in the majors, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get an opportunity to pitch in front of major league scouts.