Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Blue Jays Jose Bautista looking to continue success of last year

After a stellar 2010 season, Jose Bautista is clearly the leader of the Blue Jays this season.  The team is hoping he can continue to be a great leader, after proving himself one of the best players in the league last season.  The Blue Jays trust in Bautista is evidenced by the five year $65 million contract he signed during spring training.

Bautista, for his part, knows teams will be gunning to shut him down this season, and he is out to prove that last season was not an anomaly.  He is happy to have a regular position in the lineup this season, after bouncing around all over the batting order last season.  It will be hard to repeat his season from last year, as he won the Hank Aaron Award and was fourth in the AL MVP vote, but Bautista plans to play within himself and not pressure himself to hit a home run every time.

The Blue Jays have been one of the most active teams in signing Dominican talent, since they brought in George Bell and Tony Fernandez in the late 1990s.  Bautista is an anomaly among Dominican players in that he was a member of the Dominican middle class growing up, and he attended junior college in Florida before being drafted:
"I played on the street, I played with bottle caps, I played with rubber balls, tennis balls, real baseballs, but I never played on rocky infields like some of these kids that grew up outside of the city.  I was very privileged and fortunate that I was part of the Dominican Republic middle class, which is not very big. I was able to get a good education, go to a private Catholic school."
In any case he is another Dominican bone a fide big leaguer now, and already has two home runs through seven games this season.  He is from Santo Domingo, DR.
Jose Bautista, by Keith Allison on Flickr

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