After the awful week Boston has had, you couldn’t have asked for a better way to get back on track. Neil Diamond showed up at Fenway Park today unannounced, just in time for the start of the Royals-Red Sox game.
MLB.com’s Jason Mastrodonato reports:
Neil Diamond called the switchboard at Fenway Park at about 12:30 p.m. ET on Saturday afternoon.
“Hey, I’m here,” he said, according to Red Sox officials. “Can I come sing?”
“Sweet Caroline” has been played at ballparks throughout the nation in support of Boston after the reign of terror that locked down the city for five days and it was finally played at the ballpark that adopted the song in 2002. Diamond performed the song after the top of the eighth inning. Fittingly, the Sox scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth to take a 4-2 lead, and held on to win 4-3.
Watch Diamond’s performance:
[mlbvideo id=”26430517″ width=”500″ height=”280″ /]
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.