BOSTON — Anyone can say they belong in the major-leagues. Far fewer can play like it. Over the last couple days, Bo Bichette has done both.
On Tuesday, Bichette told Sportsnet’s David Singh that he believes he’s ready for the big-leagues. On Wednesday he strengthened his case for a promotion with a two-homer game that raises his triple-A average to .309.
From his office in the visiting clubhouse at Fenway Park, Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo approved. The home runs are encouraging, of course. And while the comments were certainly bold, Montoyo believes that confidence will help Bichette on the field.
"I love it. That’s what makes that kid good," Montoyo said. "That’s just who he is. It’s not cocky, it’s confident. You’ve got to have that to play in the big-leagues. You don’t want to take that away from the kid."
When Montoyo last asked triple-A manager Bobby Meacham about Bichette’s baserunning and defence, he heard encouraging reports. With all facets of the game coming together for the 21-year-old, he expressed a desire to arrive in the majors.
"Yeah, I’ve done everything they asked me to do," Bichette told Singh. "I’ve performed, I’ve put up numbers. I’ve gotten better offensively, defensively, base-running, as an athlete, as a teammate. Everything they’ve asked me to do, I’ve done for the past three years.
"So, if I’m not ready in their mind, there’s something new that they need to tell me I need to get better at."
Of course Bichette has played all of 46 games at triple-A so it’s not unreasonable for the Blue Jays to want to see him sustain this hot streak longer. A couple more weeks in Buffalo certainly wouldn’t hurt (though if he’s down for the entire year, questions about service time manipulation would arise, just as they did for Vladimir Guerrero Jr.).
Plus, there’s no urgent need for shortstop help in the majors right now. Freddy Galvis entered play Wednesday with 15 home runs and an above-average 103 OPS+ to go along with stellar defence.
With the July 31 trade deadline approaching it’s possible a trade of Galvis or Eric Sogard could free up playing time on the infield. If necessary, though, Montoyo would be happy to create room for both the veteran and the prospect.
"I’m pretty good playing everybody," Montoyo said. "So I’ll find room for both of them. I’ll have to talk to Freddy about it, because he a steady guy. I don’t even ask if (Galvis) wants a day off, he’s just there."
REINFORCEMENTS ON THE WAY
The absence of Ryan Borucki has contributed to the struggles of a Blue Jays rotation that ranks 28th in baseball with a 5.45 ERA. But after a strong rehab start Tuesday, the left-hander’s positioned to return from the elbow issue that has sidelined for the first half of the season.
Borucki felt strong after pitching six innings at triple-A Tuesday night, setting up the possibility that he could re-join the Blue Jays’ rotation as soon as this weekend in Detroit. Jacob Waguespack would also be on turn for Sunday’s series finale against the Tigers, giving the Blue Jays an alternative if Borucki needs more time.
Meanwhile, recently acquired right-hander Wilmer Font could be used as an opener once he obtains a work visa and reports to the Blue Jays. Font ‘started’ five games in that capacity for the Rays last year, when Montoyo was coaching in Tampa Bay.
"He throws hard and that’s a good sign," Montoyo said. "That’s what you want as an opener."
Font’s fastball averages 94 m.p.h. this year, but he has a 5.20 ERA in 45 innings for the Rays and Mets. That doesn’t appear to be a product of bad luck either, as he ranks in the bottom third of all pitchers in average exit velocity and expected wOBA, which measure the quality of contact allowed.
AN ENDORSEMENT FOR SMOAK
Even if Justin Smoak’s contract with the Blue Jays expires after the season, Montoyo would welcome him back beyond 2019.
"I love Justin Smoak," Montoyo said. "He’s even-keeled. That’s a good example for these kids. Just be the same. Just keep working. That’s who Justin Smoak is. He leads by example."
BLUE JAYS NOTES
The Blue Jays are open to using Ken Giles on back-to-back days depending on how he feels… Now that Danny Jansen’s hitting better, Luke Maile will play just once every four games or so with Jansen catching most Marcus Stroman and Trent Thornton starts … Thomas Pannone’s expected to start for the Blue Jays Thursday.