Is Toronto Blue Jays slugger, Jose Bautista the baseball version of Jaromir Jagr, who is excelling will into his 40’s? His fitness regimen might suggest so.
It was a full on dive and a half into Blue Jays Spring Training and things definitely started with a bang. After months of talk, baseball was suddenly back in the forefront and the waiting game seemed to be over.
Jose Bautista, in those early days of spring, laid his own bomb, telling the media he had given his terms weeks ago and hadn’t heard back. He was also emphatic about knowing his worth, that there would be no hometown discount -which is a silly thought to begin with– and that he didn’t want to negotiate. Just as that storm started to slow, the rumour started that it was a five year/ 150 million dollar contract he was seeking, which soon thereafter was claimed false by Bautista.
It is pretty well understood that those are crazy numbers to expect for a player coming into age 36. The question is, are they crazy numbers for Jose Bautista coming into his 36th year? The NHL has his equivalent in Jaromir Jagr, a fitness hound who plays for the Florida Panthers. He is a powerhouse at 44 years old, and is the leading all-time point scorer among active NHL players. He is also considered one of the greatest professional players of all time. Jagr, not a late starter, was once the youngest player in the league at 18 years old. At 44, he is now the oldest.
Jose Bautista made his MLB debut with the Baltimore Orioles in 2004 making him a later start than most. He was focused on a baseball career, but education was also an important focus. Bautista spoke about this late start with Bradley Popkin in Men’s Fitness Magazine,
“I didn’t even have 1,000 at-bats. Most guys, in order to go to the big leagues, get at least 1,500 to 2,000 at-bats. I always wanted to play and be a professional, but I always kept things in check with my education.”
He came to the Blue Jays in 2008 and really didn’t display his power hitting abilities until 2010. It was in both 2010 and 2011 that Bautista had the most home runs in the Majors.
Any Blue Jay fan can tell you that Jose Bautista is a serious guy. He has one of the best stare downs in baseball, as well as a work ethic that translates over to his everyday life and how he takes care of his body. It is obvious that the adage ‘my body is my temple’ is one he subscribes to, and the work he puts in during the off season is admirable.
He spoke of the program he follows with Men’s Fitness Magazine, and the work he does with trainer Ryan Bruggeman,
“My training workouts have evolved over the last few years quite a bit because of the new developments in the fitness world. We’re basically doing very specific, functional movements for baseball. We do strength and conditioning, then another part is injury prevention. We try to make sure my body, joints and muscles are moving adequately and the right muscles are activating. All that helps with injury prevention and maximizing strength.”
With this sort of dedication, is it really a stretch to think he can play into his 40s? In this day and age, the possibilities are opening.
There is also the heart factor to consider. Jose Bautista, who has in some ways become the face of the Toronto Blue Jays, solidified that role with one flip of the bat last season in what was arguably one of the craziest innings in post season Major League Baseball. Game 5 of the ALDS made Bautista not only a home town hero but a household name as well.
Jose Bautista is definitely role model material with not only his power hitting ability, but his stance on the importance of education. Early in his career, he received support and guidance to aid him in the transition to American college life from the Latin Athletes Fund.
Bautista continues to pay it forward with The Bautista Family Education Fund, which is dedicated to helping young athletes to make the same transition he did, with a continued focus on education. The Fund which was focused on the Dominican Republic, has since opened its doors to Canadian athletes facing similar issues.
With everything Bautista brings to the table, finding a deal that will benefit both him and the Blue Jays should be a focus going forward. Dealing with this matter in a cookie cutter way would be a mistake that another club will most certainly capitalize on. He will only continue to prove that as the season progresses, and his fans -including a 3 year old who is convinced Bautista listens every time he asks for a home run– will continue to push for him to remain a Blue Jay.
*Featured Image Credit: Keith Allison UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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