Eric Byrnes hasn’t played in the majors since 2010 and has spent the past several years doing lots of television work, but now the 38-year-old is coming out of retirement. Sort of.
Byrnes will play two games for the San Rafael Pacifics of the independent Pacific Association, on August 5 and 6, in order to raise money for the Pat Tillman Foundation, which helps support veterans and their spouses.
Here’s more from John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle:
The Pacifics are donating a portion of the ticket sales for both of Byrnes’ appearances to the foundation, and Byrnes has agreed to donate his Pacifics salary. Furthermore, he’ll donate $1,000 for each of his walks, steals and singles, $2,000 for a double; $3,000 for a triple and $10,000 for a homer. Plus, $500 for every ball he catches.
Good on ya, Byrnes.
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.