DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP) The past few seasons have been somewhat of a disappointment for Jose Bautista.
The Toronto slugger has enjoyed personal successes, including a pair of top five AL MVP finishes, since his breakout season in 2010.
But the Blue Jays haven’t reached the playoffs in more than two decades.
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”We haven’t done a better job playing baseball, and it’s led to the seasons that we’ve had,” Bautista said Friday. ”We’ve been an average team comprised of better-than-average players. And to me, that’s not satisfying to know that I was a part of those teams.”
Those frustrations were especially apparent last season after the Blue Jays finished third in the AL East despite being atop the division for 61 days. They led by as many as six games in early June.
Bautista said at times he couldn’t tell if some teammates were dissatisfied by losing.
”You’d walk around after a loss of a crucial game or a bad beating you took,” he said. ”Sometimes, you see people and you don’t know what they’re thinking. I’d at least rather know.”
With the offseason additions of All-Stars Russell Martin and Josh Donaldson, Bautista believes there be will more of a competitive spirit around the clubhouse.
”We need something along those lines here every now and then,” the five-time All-Star said. ”It’s good to have guys to who winning matters and is important and they get to show it with passion. When they don’t perform up to their capabilities, I don’t see anything wrong with that.”
Manager John Gibbons said Bautista’s ability to stay healthy last season was crucial during the team’s early run. Bautista avoided the disabled list for the first time in two years, batting .286 with 35 homers and 103 RBIs in 155 games.
”He’s our go-to guy,” Gibbons said. ”He’s been that guy ever since he arrived here and really came into his own. We don’t pin everything on one guy, but you look at what he’s done the last few years and I would say he’s one of the top five players in baseball.”
But personal accomplishments are not what Bautista is seeking in 2015. The right-field wants to finally win and break the Blue Jays’ playoff drought that dates to their 1993 World Series title, the longest in North American sports.
”I still feel like I have a lot of time left to play,” the 34-year-old said. ”We love playing. We love competing, and winning the championship is what it’s about every time the season starts. This year is no different. The personal success has been great in the last five, six years, but you crave to win. I guarantee it’s a better feeling sacrificing some personal success for some team success,” he added. ”I’ve never been in that situation before. But I would make that trade any day.”
NOTES: Two-time AL Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana, who agreed to a minor league contract on Thursday, is expected to report to camp Saturday. GM Alex Anthopoulos said while it’s ”highly unlikely” Santana will be ready for opening day, he is viewed by the organization as a candidate for its starting rotation. The 35-year-old lefty has not pitched in the majors since 2012 because of multiple injuries to his throwing shoulder and a torn left Achilles tendon he suffered during extended spring training with Baltimore last June. Santana will earn $2.5 million if he makes the big league roster and has an April 28 opt-out clause. ”If we can get him on the mound and be healthy, we don’t have any doubts that he could be a very good starter,” Anthopoulos said. … Gibbons said all position players reported on-time Friday for the first full-squad workout. … RHP Aaron Sanchez is tentatively scheduled to start the exhibition opener against Pittsburgh on Tuesday.