ARLINGTON - The room has not been re-named in honour of Jose Bautista as of yet.
The sign outside read “Media Interview Room” when the Blue Jays right fielder walked in to be presented the Hank Aaron award, as he was a year ago with Etobicoke’s Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds.
Two trips into the same room and two Hank Aaron American League awards.
Bautista owned the crowded room on this night.
Do you think you’re the MVP in the AL this year, TSN’s Paul Hollingsworth asked?
“Well, of course I do,” Bautista said and most in the room laughed at his honesty. Even commissioner Bud Selig, who patted Bautista on the back.
National League winner, Los Angeles Dodgers’ Matt Kemp said “I’m in the same boat as Jose,” in terms of the MVP hunt.
“If I didn’t think that way,” Bautista said. “I wouldn’t be a person that liked myself a lot. There are a lot of people with great years and they’re worthy. It’s not only about production and numbers, I’ve got my fingers crossed.”
Kemp and Bautista are in similar positions: Both may be the best players in their leagues, yet neither team made post-season play. Bautista faces tough competition from New York Yankees’ Curtis Granderson and Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers ... all of whose teams made post-season play. Milwaukee Brewers’ Ryan Braun is the favorite in the NL.
“Believe me,” Bautista said “I’d must rather be getting dressed right now than being in here.”
Bautista is the third player to win the award in consecutive seasons — equalling Alex Rodriguez, 2001-2003 and Barry Bonds, 2001-2002 — after leading the majors in homers (43), walks (132), slugging percentage (.608) and OPS (1.056).
Coming off a 54-homer season in 2010, Bautista was better with his .304 average, the first AL player to lead in these categories since Ted Williams in 1942. And he put up this season’s numbers despite missing 13 games due to a stiff neck and the birth of a child.
Bautista said manager John Farrell, the apple of the Boston Red Sox ownership eye, did a good job managing the Jays during his rookie year.
“We had a lot of roster shuffling, there were trades, injuries, some guys didn’t perform to expectations and we were still OK,” Bautista said when asked about his manager. “Nowadays in baseball GMs and managers are moving around.
“I don’t know Theo (Epstein), I don’t know John Henry. It’s a compliment for the manager to be wanted elsewhere.”
Epstein left the Boston Red Sox to run the Chicago Cubs, while Henry is a co-owner of the Sox.
“Hopefully John will stay. Unfortunately if he goes over to the Red Sox, we’ll have to find another manager.”
Bautista said he had not heard from GM Alex Anthopoulos as of yet this post season. The right fielder, who led the majors in home runs for the second consecutive season, has been spending the off-season in the Dominican Republic, recovering from his injured knee late in the season and a sprained ankle suffered after the all-star break.