Jose Bautista’s Injury: The View From 25 Feet Away

I haven’t witnessed something like this before. I haven’t even seen something like it live on television since Moises Alou cracked his ankle doing nothing more risky than rounding the bag at first.

Jose Bautista of the Jays took a mammoth swing and put a ball – foul – into the furthest reaches of left field at Yankee Stadium tonight, 400 feet away, easily. And then he crumpled over in pain.

At first this looked to be a hamate bone break in the wrist. The Jays have since indicated there is no fracture and the injury seems to be a tendon. It isn’t necessarily that much better news for the battered Jays but psychologically it’s better than a break. We’ll see what the MRI says tomorrow

It does, however, bring invoke anew the endless accusations that Bautista is/was on Performance Enhancing Drugs. I’ve addressed this twice before with some first-hand recollections of the day a really knowledgable baseball man forecast all of Joey Bats’ success.

I’d like to re-post here what I wrote in May of last year, with a slight update on the whereabouts of the source. There are a lot of reasons a guy’s tendon might be strained or stretched or torn, but I think there’s something akin to “provenance” for Bautista that merits re-telling.

And while pausing only to thank you for again making this blog Top 10 in the MLB.Com “pro” division despite its spotty schedule, here’s what I wrote a season ago:

MICKEY MANTO FORESAW BAUTISTA’S SUCCESS:

I first told this story in the fall of 2010 as Jose Bautista crossed the 50-home run plateau and was victimized by assumptions about PED’s or corked bats or, I don’t know, deals with the devils. With the Jays’ slugger now having crossed the 20-home run plateau before the first of June (2011) I think I should tell it again.

I used to run into Jeff “Mickey” Manto all the time when he was the journeyman infielder (he played in 11 major league seasons and changed teams 10 times; he once went from Boston to Seattle and back to Boston in one season; he played for 15 minor league teams). Manto averaged 26 games per stint in his big league career, so whenever I’d see him on a field somewhere one of us would say “uh-oh – about to change uniforms again.”

So on March 3, 2007, I stepped off a flight from New York and went directly to the Pirates-Yankees exhibition game in Tampa and who’s the first person I see? Pirates batting coach Jeff Manto (naturally, it was his last year on the job). I asked him what he could tell me about his Pirate hitters that I didn’t know; who I should watch for; who might surprise me.

He pointed at the guy in the batting cage. “If we can get him to replicate his swing three days in a row, Jose Bautista could hit 25 homers a year. In fact, I think he could hit 40. He is just so easily frustrated when it doesn’t go right that he blames himself and forgets what he’s learned. Or ignores it. But of all these guys I have, if you want one of them who will eventually do something special in this game, I’d pick him. I wouldn’t be very surprised.”

With Jeff Manto, White Sox hitting coach and Bautista Prognosticator, last month at Yankee Stadium

Bautista had 569 at bats last year in Toronto and ended at 54-124-.260. If you took his rates of production during his first four full seasons and gave him 569 at bats each year, he’d have averaged 20-73-.238 – so the power was there; this was not Brady Anderson coming out of nowhere. As I noted last year, until George Foster suddenly hit 52 homers for the 1977 Reds, his career high for blasts was 29 – and he was already in his seventh season in the National League. Cecil Fielder spent four years unable to crack the line-up of the Blue Jays, topped out at 14 homers, went to Japan for one year, and came back to hit 51 for the 1990 Tigers.

It is a rare thing to see a slugger grow from good to great – but it’s not impossible. So lay off Bautista. And if you see Jeff Manto (the 2011 minor league hitting instructor for the White Sox) say hi for me, and congratulate him on his prescience (oh and the other kid he really liked back when he was his first manager in the minors, some guy named Ryan Howard), and tell him the Pirates shouldn’t have dumped him as battng coach, nor should they have dealt Bautista for catcher Robinzon Diaz.

Update: Manto was promoted, this year, to batting coach for the White Sox. You may have noticed he helped Adam Dunn re-find his mojo. The man knows his batters.

14 Comments

Why would you suspect a Hamate fracture……Please stick to what you know

I felt badly for Jose Bautista, he appeared to be in great pain. I don’t like to see athletes get hurt during a game. I watched the re-post from MLB.com and I can see the way his wrist was twisted with his follow-through. There was such a strange motion about it when I watched the bat in his hand. I’m glad he didn’t break any bones but muscle and tendon take a longer time to heal. This is not what the Jays need right now. First it was their pitching staff and now it’s their batters. Jeff Manto and some other individuals know instinctively when they are in the presence of greatness. Those are the people to trust with their judgment in spotting talent on the ball field. I congratulate Mr. Manto on his promotion and wish him all the best. I must apologize for causing a stir tonight when I made note of you wearing a ring in your new avatar pic. I had never seen you wear any jewelry on set except for a watch and it was out of the norm. I’m just a stickler for details and I made note in a tweet. Then the hailstorm of tweets followed suit. I hope your timeline wasn’t clogged too badly. Maybe next time I’ll just stay mum and let my head explode in private angst. Again I’m really very sorry for that. LyK

All things connected. (Except maybe for bat and ball on that particularly hard swing.) No tendon pun intended. ;)

I saw Keith briefly on YES. Looking good!

Another great article. I really with you and DP would collaborate on a project together…until then i’ll have to settle for his show and your sporadic blog posts…I’ll deal with it. Knowing you are at a lot of yankee games i’ve got a question that isn’t necessarily baseball “pure” but something that bugs the hell out of me…I’ve noticed Cano goes to his back pocket and grabs a handful of seeds and throws them in his mouth alot at the plate? Does he not use pine tar? The fact he would be basically eating the tar is puzzling enough, but don’t the seeds get stuck to his batting glove? Seems it would mess up his grip…thanks for your time.

Ask most doctors. There is a LOOK to the way steroids make people bulk up… and Jose fits the profile. It’s not proof, and it’s not ‘evidence’. But it’s still suggestive.

I used to live in Bucks County, Pa., where Jeff Manto grew up (his father was a local magistrate), and he was a capable journeyman (his first MLB homer was in Yankee Stadium, when he played for Cleveland). Glad to see him doing well as a batting instructor, and it would be fun to see the Chisox and Nats meet in the World Series this October.

Keith, are you going to rename your seats “Jose Bautista’s wrist seats” instead of “Derek Jeter’s ass seats”?

Keith Obermann Sucks. He sucked at ESPN, MSNBC and his new job cleaning toilets at Yankee Stadium.

Congrats on the Yankees getting Ichiro.

Ouch, get well soon Jose.

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Wow History, I hope you wear kneepads….

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