Toronto Blue Jays’ right fielder Jose Bautista is one of the best power hitters in baseball and will be playing in his fourth straight All-Star Game today at Citi Field in New York. Bautista is an example of how constantly working on your game can make you better: He changed his batting stance in 2008 when he was traded to the Blue Jays, and has since had seasons of 43 and 54 home runs. He also makes sure to eat healthy so he has the energy to play well.
Bautista and fellow AL East slugger David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox hung out at the MLB Fan Cave in New York yesterday to promote New Era’s new line of Diamond Era hats and the video game MLB 13: The Show. Bautista talked about his success – and his Blue Jays’ chances in the second half of the season – while sporting one of the new hats and hitting homers in the game’s home run derby mode.
You’re wearing New Era’s new hat. How does it compare to the older hats?
It’s just a different feel, just the material. It’s not the traditional wool anymore. These are usually used for batting practice. They might be testing it out to see if they can go use them in a game. It’s a little cooler, a little lighter, it’s got a different feel to it, so it’s nice.
What’s it like to be a part of All-Star week?
It’s a great atmosphere, it’s an awesome experience and just to be recognized by the fans and get voted in, you’ve always got to be appreciative of that and just the experience overall. It’s somewhat humbling. It kind of brings you back down to earth a little bit and gives you something to shoot for on the individual aspect of the game. The way they set up everything and the way they build everything up, it’s pretty cool. A lot of fans enjoy the experience and there’s a ton of stuff for them to do, like FanFest and at the stadium. So it’s a great atmosphere, great experience and I’m always happy to be a part of it.
How does MLB 13: The Show compare to real-life baseball?
By far it’s the realest game there is. Anybody that doesn’t think so is mistaken. Pitchers throw the same pitches. Like for me, knowing how I go into at-bats every night, I’m going to have the same approach depending on who’s pitching against me, I would prepare or be ready in a video game just like I would normally in a real-life game. And then the graphics are great. The sounds are awesome. The replication of your movement is… I look at myself and I’m pretty sure that’s what I look like in real life. They even have the sleeves under my shirt the exact same way that I wear them.
How can a young athlete use video games to get better at baseball?
I’m sure you could learn a lot from the fact that baseball’s a tough game in the sense that it’s a lot of failure that comes along with the game. So you can learn a lot from that. It’s a long season sometimes when you can play a full season and have your streaks and you start losing and winning, so it can teach you a lot about how baseball is a game that’s played over the course of a long season. And you can learn not to give up on anything or get down on yourself too much. I think those are the two most important things.
What will it take for the Blue Jays to compete with teams like the Red Sox and the Rays in the second half of the season?
It’s going be tough. It’s going be tough. In our division there’s a lot of great teams. The Yankees are always tough, the Rays are young and got great pitching and then the Red Sox are playing unbelievable. The Orioles are also a tough team because they have a great offense. We haven’t clicked, but we’re hoping to click. So it’s going to be a grind ‘til the end of the season and its going to be exciting and challenging in the second half and we’re all looking forward to it.
Photo: Jose Bautista hits a single in the first inning during MLB game action against the Minnesota Twins on July 5, 2013 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)