October 3, 2012
Jose Bautista says Blue Jays' leadership is fine
By MELISSA COUTO, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Injuries aside, one of the Blue Jays’ biggest problems this season seems to have been a lack of leadership and accountability in the clubhouse.
First baseman Adam Lind thinks so, relief pitcher Jason Frasor thinks so, even veteran infielder Omar Vizquel has put forward this view.
Jose Bautista, however, vehemently disagrees.
“I really don’t understand why everyone is making a big deal of this subject,” the Jays’ injured right fielder said prior to Wednesday’s closing game against the Minnesota Twins at the Rogers Centre. “It’s not something that needs to be addressed in our clubhouse.”
According to the 31-year-old, this Blue Jays team has all the leadership it needs.
“We have leadership on the players’ side, on the manager’s side, and on the owner’s side, so we don’t need any extra or additional leadership,” he said. “That’s my opinion.”
It’s not an opinion shared by many, including Jays’ manager John Farrell, who spoke of the problem before the game.
“I see that void. I’m in the clubhouse every day,” Farrell told the media. “There are plenty of opportunities for guys in our uniform to lead and there needs to be an acceptance of that and a willingness to demonstrate that.
“I think it’s paramount that every player in uniform take ownership for the team on which they play.”
As one of the older players on the Blue Jays roster, Bautista has often been described as a leader among the team’s youthful core. After being without him for 69 games due to injury, Farrell admitted that the clubhouse missed his veteran presence.
“Did his absence have an effect? Yes,” Farrell said. “But I don’t think it’s fair to pin this all on one guy. This is a collective effort and that’s a combination of myself, my staff and the players in that room.”
Again, Bautista disagreed with his manager, claiming that his presence during that missed time would not have made things any better for this group, from a leadership standpoint.
Asked about the Yunel Escobar eye black controversy that surfaced last month, the Dominican Republic native was quick to suggest he couldn’t have stopped the incident from happening.
“When it comes to Yunel, I don’t think the fact that I would have been here or not would have made a big difference,” Bautista said. “Yunel really should have thought about it better before he did something like that, but I don’t think that (it wouldn’t have happened) if I had been here.”
Afterall, he’s not a babysitter.
“I’m not going to look at him and see what he’s got written on his face to make sure it’s okay — nobody’s going to do that,” Bautista said. “Nobody can pay attention to that and still worry about playing good baseball.”
According to Bautista, playing good baseball is what it’s all about, nothing more, nothing less.
For the man who hit 43 home runs last season, his team is now faced with more pressing issues than leadership and accountability, issues which need to be addressed if the Blue Jays expect to compete next year.
“We need to play better,” Bautista said pointedly. “The players that are on the field everyday, the 25-man roster and the guys we rely on in the minors, we all need to do better and that’s the only thing that matters.
“We could manufacture the best roster (next season), we could do whatever you want, but when the game starts, if we don’t play well, we’re still going to lose.”
Leadership problem or not, the Blue Jays played poorly for much of the 2012 season and Bautista doesn’t want to make any excuses for that.
“We’re the players on the field. We’re accountable for playing well and helping to get wins,” he said. “I’d hate for this to be something that’s looked upon as the reason why we lost more than we would have liked.”