Ex-Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista open to pitching if opportunity arises

Jose Bautista talks about wanting to play for the Dominican Republic and pitching with Marcus Stroman.

Jose Bautista carved out a successful career at the plate. Now he’s open to a move to the mound.

Bautista, 39, has been out of MLB since 2018 but he spent the winter reportedly working out as a pitcher with the hope of representing the Dominican Republic as a two-way player during Olympic qualifying.

The Olympics and the qualifiers were postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but Bautista was open to pitching if the situation presented itself.

“If they had given me a chance to pitch, I would’ve taken it,” Bautista said during Sportsnet’s Blue Jays Watch Party on Friday night. “[Pitching] is just always something that I’ve been obsessed with.”

Bautista even received some help from a former teammate as he looked to hone his pitching arsenal.

“Marcus Stroman lives in Tampa and he needed a throwing partner and I was happy to volunteer,” Bautista explained. “We just kind of played catch with each other. He gave me some tips.

“I normally like improvement in any skill that I have, whether it’s playing golf or playing baseball. It’s been pretty fun to try to throw to catchers, something that I haven’t done in a long time.”

Bautista pitched from his little league days through to his college career. He even had a stint as a closer and a starter when he played for Chipola College in Florida, where he hit 89-90 mph on the radar gun on one of the rare days it was brought out to the diamond.

As for the future, pending the COVID-19 pandemic, Bautista says the World Baseball Classic could be another possibility if he doesn’t figure in the Dominican team’s plans. Bautista’s father is a Spanish citizen and, therefore, he is eligible to represent Spain.

While he said he “would love” to continue playing, Bautista is not kidding himself about the rigours of pitching regularly at a major-league level.

“Pitching is pretty hard,” Bautista admitted. “Your arm has to be in extremely good shape. I’m not going to sit here and try to tell anybody, let alone myself, that I’m ready to go through a major-league season as a pitcher. That’s a pretty tough task. But you never know.”

“I’m not doing it for any particular reason specifically but I’m ready just in case.”

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