Now that the wear and tear from last year are gone, Cavan Biggio is back at work.
And as the Toronto Blue Jays begin a somewhat premature trek back to the winning side, Biggio is taking with him the lessons of his rookie season.
Biggio and the Blue Jays’ exciting group of homegrown hitters made a successful — if inconsistent — transition to the big-leagues last year, prompting the front office to be aggressive in the off-season, adding important rotation arms such as Hyun-Jin Ryu and Tanner Roark. For the 24-year-old Houston native, those moves inspire confidence.
“When a team goes through a rebuilding process, they never really know how long it’s going to take,” Biggio said during an appearance on Tim and Sid on Friday. “I think the front office kind of saw it as ‘why wait? Why would we waste all this talent that’s performing right now?’
“And I think it just goes to show how much trust they have in us and how much trust they have in their plan with what they want the Blue Jays to look like in the next couple of years. It’s very encouraging to see the moves that we have made this past off-season.”
Biggio is in Calgary for the Blue Jays’ Winter Fest tour, and intends to join his teammates for Saturday’s Battle of Alberta, under -20 C weather — way different from Houston winters. He’s also back on a training schedule, which involves hitting and fielding drills as well as work at the gym.
His goal, he says, is to find consistency.
“You go through the course of a long year like that, and, especially in the big leagues, you learn a lot from yourself,” Biggio said during Tim and Sid. “I did a lot of things that I liked with my offensive approach and swing and whatnot, and there were some times that I didn’t really like it. Going into this off-season, it’s been building off that, trying to build on the things that I really like and trying to minimize the things that I didn’t like.”
After being called up on May 24, Biggio saw his numbers fluctuate. A three-hit performance in his third career MLB game helped him finish his small-sample first month with a .274 batting average to .230 by the end of June.
The very next game, on July 1, Biggio had a three-hit, four-RBI night agains the Kansas City Royals. An end-of-season line of .234/.364/.429 isn’t great by any stretch, but there were flashes of the player he thinks he can be.
“You get called up to the big leagues and it’s your lifelong dream, the first thing you want to do is you want to get your feet wet. You want to prove to your teammates, these guys that you’ve pretty much never played with before, you want to show them that you can play,” he said.
“Over the course of a long baseball year, you’re going to have your ups and downs, and for me last year I felt like my ups and downs were not consistent enough. I’m going to learn from the long grind of the year and apply it to next year.”
Perhaps the Blue Jays’ investment in a win-now approach can be good incentive for him. He’s finally at the spot he envisioned himself so many times during his minor-league days, along with the likes of Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Reese McGuire and Danny Jansen.
“If you go to our conversations in High-A or Double-A, Bo and I, he’d just be talking about ‘let’s go now, I feel like we can help them now,'” Biggio said. “It’s a process, we got better, and I think us spending a lot of time together in the minor leagues helped out a lot with just being able to grow some team chemistry.
“Now, we’re looking forward to bringing that to Toronto like we did last year and maintaining it for years to come.”
As for where on the field he’ll be playing, Biggio evokes his dad, Craig Biggio, to say that he’s open to different positions. The Hall of Famer Biggio made several position moves during his career, from second baseman to catcher to playing in the outfield.
“I think Ross’s main message was he didn’t want to limit himself when going after (free agents),” said Cavan. “My whole mindset towards it is just, I’ll play anywhere to give our team the best chance to win that night.”
Like his dad, Cavan is primarily a second baseman, but he’d be willing to make a move to the outfield in order to stay in the lineup.
“It’s always been instilled (in me). The best position in the field is on the field, in the lineup. So, I think if I can prove myself in the outfield and continue to work in the infield, that just gives us a better chance, and it gives Charlie (Montoyo) more options to write the lineup.
“I think we can hurt you in a lot of different ways each night, and I just want to do my part.”