Jose Bautista’s asking price in an extension has been a source of controversy, and MLB Network’s Peter Gammons echoes reports indicating that Bautista sought a six-year contract in asking for a new deal with the Blue Jays. Gammons spoke to Bautista about his rigid training and diet routine, exploring his ability to defy aging curves thanks to acute physiological self-awareness and in-depth study of said aging metrics. “I am preparing to defy those aging curves by my strict adherence to physical, mental and nutritional routines,” Bautista explained in discussing his desire to play into his 40s. “When I missed time (at 31) with hip problems, I changed everything. I studied, I learned about my body, and how to keep it at peak performance levels, and how to maintain it. … It is about discipline and diet and strive for physical and mental states that defy aging. I love a good steak; I cannot eat red meat. There are a lot of things I love, but I cannot be who and what I want to be and eat and drink them.” As Gammons writes, Jays president Mark Shapiro is somewhat cut from the same cloth — seeking to instill that awareness of conditioning and physiological intellect throughout the organization.
A few more notes from around the American League…
- Terry Francona’s proficiency in managing platoons will be tested early in the regular season, writes MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince, as the Indians attempt to make due with a patchwork outfield mix while Michael Brantley recovers from shoulder surgery. With Abraham Almonte suspended, Cleveland could lean on a combination of Rajai Davis, Collin Cowgill, Lonnie Chisenhall, Joey Butler, Will Venable, Robbie Grossman, Shane Robinson, Michael Choice and prospects Tyler Naquin and James Ramsey — there will be no Austin Jackson signing or Jay Bruce trade, Castrovince reaffirms — none of whom necessarily profiles as an everyday option.
- Tim Britton of the Providence Journal chronicles a foot injury suffered by Craig Kimbrel at 18 years of age that helped transform him add more than 10 miles per hour to his formerly unimposing fastball. Kimbrel dropped 12 panels of sheet rock on his left foot while working with his father, an electrician, thus resulting in nearly a semester wearing a cast. During that time, his coach at Wallace State Community College began a unique throwing program to build arm strength in Kimbrel, which involved him throwing from both knees. Kimbrel and coach Randy Putman both explained to Britton that the program isn’t for everyone, and Kimbrel’s flexibility and athleticism made him uniquely suited for the unorthodox exercises. When healthy enough to pitch, Kimbrel’s stamina was also impacted by missed time with the foot injury, thus prompting a move to the bullpen — a role in which he has excelled ever since.
- Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com and Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register each profiled the nearly unfathomable route that Daniel Nava took to the Major Leagues in a pair of columns this week. Angels fans that are unfamiliar with their new left fielder’s obstacle-ridden road to the big leagues will want to explore the 33-year-old’s journey from equipment manager of his college club to indy ball player that was signed by the Red Sox for one dollar to 27-year-old rookie that turned the first Major League pitch that he saw into a grand slam. Gonzalez notes, in fact, that Hollywood producers have contacted Nava to inquire about making a movie out of his journey, though the new Angels outfielder says he has no intention of entertaining any such inquiry while his career is still going.
- The Mariners will likely send recently signed Cuban center fielder Guillermo Heredia to Class-A Advanced or Double-A to begin his professional career in the U.S., writes MLB.com’s Greg Johns. As Johns points out, Heredia hasn’t played in a game since 2014 due to the lengthy nature of his defection from Cuba, so the club is prepared for some rust that will need to be shaken off. Heredia spoke, through an interpreter, about his excitement for the opportunity to take the next step in his pro career and also explained that the presence of countryman Leonys Martin (who, not coincidentally, shares an adjacent locker) will help to ease his transition. Heredia has known Martin since the two were both in Cuba, and he’s already begun soliciting Martin for advice as he works toward a big league career.