Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune has the story:
Could the Cubs send Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo back to the minors for more grooming?
It doesn’t seem possible considering their status as part of the core of the rebuild, not to mention the seven-year contract extension Castro received last year.
But before Sunday’s finale against Milwaukee, manager Dale Sveum, who lost his voice shouting at ump Chris Guccione on Friday, hinted it was indeed possible.
“If people keep playing like that, you have to find options,” Sveum told reporters on Sunday afternoon. “Give people playing time at Triple-A to figure this stuff out. … The bottom line is you have to perform. Whether you need more development or you decide all those kind of things. There’s still that accountability. … Many, many people throughout the history of the game (have been demoted back to the minor leagues).”
Castro, 23, entered play Sunday batting .304 with an .802 OPS, but he has struggled defensively at shortstop. Rizzo, who’s also 23, is hitting .190 with a .299 on-base percentage through 67 plate appearances.
All that said, this feels like more of an attempt at a wake up call by Sveum than any real threat.
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.