Tonight is Dustin Ackley bobblehead night at Safeco Field. However, Ackley isn’t playing. Manager Eric Wedge said he’s resting his second baseman, even though the Angels are throwing a right-hander.
Which is just plain stupid.
Ackley should be playing tonight regardless of the bobblehead matter. He’s a left-handed hitter who has hit righties far better than southpaws, so there’s certainly no good reason to rest him. He’s even 4-for-13 with a triple and a couple of RBI against Angels starter Ervin Santana, which is better than most of his teammates.
So those are the baseball reasons to put him in the lineup.
And there’s the other stuff, the stuff that a manager really shouldn’t think about when putting together a lineup, but that many of them would anyway, simply because they’re human.
I’m sure there are a whole bunch of 8- and 10-year-old kids out there whose favorite player is Dustin Ackley. Some of them live in Tacoma, Yakima, Vancouver or wherever and probably get to go to one or two games per year. This is the game their mom and/or dad took them to so that they could see their idol and get his bobblehead. And because Eric Wedge is a doodie head, they’re going to be half-disappointed.
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.