Blue Jays manager John Gibbons spoke with power hitter Jose Bautista during spring training about the perils of building a negative reputation with umpires, then witnessed Bautista visibly protesting a pair of strike calls in Tuesday's season opening loss to Cleveland.
“He’s a very intense guy, and he thrives on that,” Gibbons said. “But what happens is, it can cause some problems. ... When you explode on them, they might think you're showing them up and nobody likes to be shown up in the game.”
Bautista defending his actions prior to Wednesday's game.
"I don't see anything wrong with playing with emotion," Bautista said. "I have to rely on my eyes to dictate what I can do and not do on the field and if my eyes are telling me something, then I react. I don't mean any disrespect by it. I'm not trying to make anybody look bad, and I don't think I make anybody look bad by reacting."
On a 3-0 pitch Tuesday, Bautista began walking toward first only to have plate umpire Jeff Nelson signal a strike, late. The pitch appeared to be outside. Later in the game he was called out on a close third strike. On both occasions, his gestures signalled obvious disagreement.
"When I see something that's out of line, I react," he said. "I'm not sitting there yelling at them all the time. A lot of times I just react and get back in the [batter's] box. Sometimes I have trouble, more than other players, dealing with my production being affected by somebody else's mediocrity. That's just the way I am as a person."
Gibbons doesn't intend to re-address the matter in the near term.
“It may never become an issue,” he said.
Bautista acknowledged that it's something he'll need to deal with, as the issue is popping occasionally.
"I am starting to feel annoyed about everybody pointing the finger at me reacting, like it's something negative," he said.
He said there's no proof that umpires are being biased toward him.
"I don't have any evidence to believe that there's animosity," he said.
Bautista’s frustration symbolized some evident anxiety within the Toronto dugout during the opener. Though the club is dominated by veterans, “everybody wants to get off to a good start,” Gibbons said. “It relaxes everybody. ... Let’s face it, the buildup we've got here, it can make it tough to play. There are a lot of expectations.”
In other news. Gibbons announced that backup Henry Blanco is scheduled to catch R.A. Dickey on Saturday, his next scheduled start. Regular catcher J.P. Arencibia was charged with three passed balls in the Blue Jays 4-1 loss to Cleveland in the season opener.
Gibbons said he wants Arencibia's bat in the lineup regularly.
Dickey and Blanco worked together previously and Dickey praised his abilities repeatedly during spring training. It would not be surprising to see Blanco become Dickey's semi-permanant personal catcher.
Notes: Left-hander Brett Cecil's velocity is recovering - he reached 94 mph with his fastball Tuesday. He's using the same training program as bullpen-mate Steve Delabar ... Third baseman Brett Lawrie (rib cage strain) is at least two weeks away from playing. He isn't taking batting practice yet.