As a Twins fan this pains me because I’m sick of seeing players leave Minnesota and thrive elsewhere, but as a human I’m thrilled to see Justin Morneau doing really well for the Rockies.
Morneau’s career was derailed by a concussion in mid-2010. At the time he was hitting .345 with an OPS over 1.000, gunning for his second MVP award. And then he spent the next three seasons struggling to stay in the lineup amid dizziness and headaches and various other horrible symptoms that led to him hitting just .256 with a .726 OPS from 2011-2013.
He looked nothing like his old self at any point and following a trade to the Pirates late last season Morneau slugged just .312 with zero homers in 25 games. It was sad to watch. And now Morneau is hitting .327 with nine homers and a .940 OPS through 42 games for the Rockies, including .300 with a .538 slugging percentage away from Coors Field.
Part of me is like “dang, why couldn’t that have happened for him in Minnesota” but most of me is like “at least it’s happening somewhere.” At age 33 his career is back on track and everyone (except maybe National League West pitchers) should be very happy about that.
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.