Jose Bautista: Ventura ‘could use some maturing’


Toronto Blue Jays' Jose Bautista. (Jon Blacker/CP)

TORONTO — The fallout from Sunday afternoon’s heated game between the Blue Jays and Kansas City Royals — won in the end by Toronto, 5-2 — continued at Rogers Centre on Monday morning, as Jose Bautista offered his thoughts on the commotion.

An awful lot happened, but the gist of the events is that Josh Donaldson was plunked by Edinson Volquez in the first, prompting home plate umpire Jim Wolf to warn both benches, and then brushed off the plate with high, inside pitches twice more throughout the game, which caused the Blue Jays third baseman to shout at Wolf for not enforcing his warning.

Troy Tulowitzki took a pitch to the chest and forearm in the seventh, before Blue Jays reliever Aaron Sanchez clipped Alcides Escobar in the knee with a sinker in the eighth, spurring benches and bullpens to empty so that the two teams could discuss their differences from closer proximity.

The Blue Jays’ argument was that Wolf’s warning after Donaldson was plunked in the first wasn’t enforced when Donaldson was buzzed twice more and Tulowtizki was hit in the seventh. The Royals stance was that their scouting reports indicated they needed to pitch inside and keep the Blue Jays off the plate, and that Toronto’s hitters had no right to cry foul at inside pitching.

Volquez taunted the Blue Jays dugout from his own during the game, and said afterwards of Donaldson: "He’s a little baby. He was crying like a baby. … He got mad at everybody like he was Barry Bonds. He’s not Barry Bonds. He’s got three years in the league."

Bautista remained subdued during Sunday’s night’s theatrics, choosing instead to exact revenge with his bat by drilling a run-scoring ground-rule double to deep centre field two pitches after Donaldson was brushed back for a second time. But Monday morning he criticized Wolf for not better controlling the situation.

"Everything was somewhat blown out of proportion because of what I believe was the mishandling of the situation by the umpires. I think the warning was put in too early," Bautista said. "After the warning’s put on, you’ve got to respect it, right? I have a big problem when an umpire can say they know 100 percent in their mind the intent of a particular pitch after a warning’s put on. For a fastball to hit Tulowitzki after a warning’s put on, you’re supposed to respect the warning. I don’t care how many strikes there are. I think the mishandling of the whole situation is what took things to a different level. I think people need to let the game be played."

Naturally, the players in the vistors’ dugout felt differently. Kansas City manager Ned Yost was the most vocal Royal in support of Wolf’s handling of the situation.

"I thought Jim Wolf did a tremendous job understand the game, understanding what’s intentional," Yost said Sunday afternoon. "Was it intentional on their part to hit [Escobar]? Absolutely. They miss him with the first one then came back and hit him again with the second one. I think Jim Wolf did a great job of understanding what was intentional and what wasn’t."

Yost’s opinion spurred Bautista to take to Twitter Sunday night, tweeting in both English and Spanish:

Asked Monday morning to explain what it was that irked him about Yost’s comments, Bautista didn’t mince words.

"I just thought it was a ridiculous comment to say he thought it was one of the best officiated games he’s ever seen," Bautista said. "I just don’t know how you can say, one, that you believe that was one of the best-officiated games that you’ve ever seen and, two, that you know exactly everybody’s intent on the pitches that were thrown close to batters. I don’t know if he’s got a mind reading device that I haven’t heard about. I just don’t know how he can say that. But he did say it."

Bautista wasn’t the only player from Sunday’s heated affair to share their thoughts on the fireworks through social media. After the game, Royals starter Yordano Ventura — no stranger to confrontation this season — sandbagged Bautista in a series of three Tweets that were soon deleted.

The Tweets were in Spanish and, according to Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan, translated to: "We’ll meet again later and if you do that with me, you’ll see what I’m about. I don’t care about anybody. I used to respect you, but you’re a nobody. You got lucky this time. But MLB doesn’t get cancelled after this season. Keep running your mouth. You need to stop giving signs. You’re gonna get it from me for being fresh and you really are a nobody."

Bautista saw Ventura’s comments and, asked if he cared to respond, the outfielder choose conciliatory words.

"I think he’s a great player," Bautista said of Ventura. "I think he’s a young player that could use some maturing. Hopefully he focuses on playing the game and allows his ability to create a name for himself and be a good part of his community wherever he ends up establishing himself as a pitcher."

Bautista said him and Ventura have no prior history. Asked if there was a reason why Ventura singled him out, other than his comments about Yost, the Blue Jays veteran said he had no idea.

"I don’t know. I don’t have that device that Ned Yost has," Bautista said. "I can’t read [Ventura’s] mind, so, I don’t know."

The good (or bad, depending on your point of view) part about all of this commotion is that it’s over — for now. It’s not inconceivable to imagine a playoff series between these clubs, two of the most deep and talented in the American League.

Of course, the Royals will almost certainly be in the post-season, while the Blue Jays have some work to do before they can snap a 22-year playoff drought. But after last week’s four-game series — won by the Blue Jays, three games out of four — an October matchup between the feuding rivals is undeniably tantalizing.

"They’re a great team. They’re obviously a battle every time we play them. We didn’t have an easy game against them all season," Bautista said of the Royals, who his Blue Jays defeated four times out of seven in 2015, with a cumulative score of 39-33. "Yesterday was another one of those type of games. But I think playing games like that against teams that are that strong and have been playing together for so long, and for us to still come out on top — it says a lot about our team and makes you optimistic about the rest of the season."

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said he felt Sunday’s atmosphere, and the series as a whole, was the closest thing to playoff baseball he’s seen during his tenure in Toronto.

"There was just great intensity," Gibbons said. "They’re the top team in the league. They play that brand of baseball, anyway. It’s high intensity. And there was excitement from our fans. You could definitely feel that. And they were those kind of games, too. They were back and forth, tough games. It was fun to be a part of."

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