Bautista powers Jays to preseason win over Pirates
Jose Bautista enjoyed his productive, 3-for-3 day at the plate Sunday in the Toronto Blue Jays' 5-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
That it came against his old team made little difference.
"I just had a good day," the third baseman said. "It's nice to start getting that rhythm back and put some good swings on some balls."
Last year's major league home run champion doubled twice, scored two runs and drove in one.
Bautista was traded to the Blue Jays in August 2008 for backup catcher Robinzon Diaz. Last month he signed a five-year, US$64 million contract extension after hitting 54 home runs in 2010.
Prior to that, he'd never hit more than 16 home runs in a year (2006). He's also played for Baltimore, Tampa Bay and Kansas City, all during the 2004 season.
The 30-year-old Bautista said there are no hard feelings toward the Pirates.
"If anything I'm happy because I don't know what my career would have been like if I stayed in Pittsburgh," Bautista said. "If anything I'm happy that I got traded away because I did receive that second opportunity that I was looking for."
Pirates general manager Neal Huntington, who orchestrated the trade, said that any time a player hits 54 home runs who used to be in your organization, you might look back and question the deal.
"But I think the reality of it was that his time had come and gone here," Huntington said. "Sometimes players go other places and get worse. Sometimes they go other places and they get better.
"Jose's credit, he made an adjustment and had a breakout year last year. He deserves a big contract, he got one and I'm happy for him."
Left-hander Ricky Romero threw four scoreless innings in his second start of the spring for Toronto. He struck out six and allowed just one hit, a single to Pedro Alvarez, in the first inning.
"Not bad, eh?" Romero said. "The plan was to just come out and pitch. The first outing was more just getting in tune with some pitches and getting a feel for that sinker. [Today] was just more go out and just pitch. That was the plan and that's what we did."
Pirates starter James McDonald allowed four runs and four hits in 2 2/3 innings. He was pulled when his pitch count reached the target range of 50 to 55.
The right-hander was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 31 along with minor leaguer Andrew Lambo for Octavio Dotel, now Toronto's closer.
"The first inning I got behind guys, didn't throw strike one," McDonald said. "I was pleased the way I bounced back in the second, so I took that as a positive that I could bounce back and throw a shutdown inning. I tip my hat to Bautista, he was taking some good swings out there, but I need to focus on getting strike one."