DUNEDIN, Fla. — I spent a few minutes this morning chatting with Jose Bautista in the Blue Jays clubhouse. “Joey Bats” clubbed 54 homers last season, two years after the Pirates kicked him to the curb in a swap for a warm body named Robinzon Diaz.
A couple of weeks ago, Bautista inked a five-year, $65 million deal to stay in Toronto. Not bad for one amazing year’s work. So far, he seems to be keeping everything in perspective. He gave me a pleasant, thoughtful interview and seems not to harbor any grudge against the Pirates.
I’ll have a bit more on Bautista in tomorrow’s Trib. Here’s a teaser of some stuff not in the print edition:
… On his expectations for 2011 after setting a franchise record for homers last year: “It’s one of those great seasons. Magical, if you want to use that word. Obviously, I’ve got to be realistic. My success is not measured by how many home runs I hit but by how good I am at getting on base, scoring and driving in runs. If it comes via the home run, so be it. But I’m not going to measure my success by how many home runs I hit. Historically, the guys who’ve hit 50 haven’t been able to repeat it often because it’s hard to do. All I want to do is be ready every day, stay healthy, get on base. I’ll welcome any home runs that come along the way.
…. What it’s like to be compared to Albert Pujols, Barry Bonds and that crowd: “I don’t consider myself part of that elite group yet. They had so much consistency throughout the years. Last year was the first time I did it. If I repeat it, I’ll welcome people putting me in that category.”
… Whether he still follows the Pirates: “It’s a team I played for, for a long time. I have some feelings for the area and the organization. It seems like they have a lot of talent. Sometimes, it takes a while to develop young players.”