Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista became the 26th player in major league history to reach the 50-home-run mark when he went deep to lead Toronto to a 1-0 win over the Mariners on Thursday. But some wondered about Bautista's rapid transformation into a powerful home run hitter.
The 29-year-old Bautista is the first to reach 50 homers since Prince Fielder (50) and Alex Rodriguez (54) in 2007. Bautista's previous season high was 16 home runs for the Pirates in 2006.
"It's really a big honor to be put in that elite group of hitters," Bautista said after the game. "To tell you the truth, I really haven't let it sink in yet. ... Once I do that, then I'll probably have more feelings to describe. Right now I'm really honored and happy."
Bautista was also asked flat-out if he had ever used performance enhancing drugs.
ďAbsolutely not,Ē Bautista said. ďI understand (the question) because of the history of what happened in the past. Those days are gone. Itís been six years since we have a new (testing) program in place. It seems to be working. Itís the most strict in all of professional sports. I donít see why those questions really come up. The only reason why is the history of what happened in the past.
ďI donít think thereís anything else that I can say about it. Itís just something I have to deal with, the questions, and I have all season long. Itís not something that Iím going to back down from because I have nothing to hide so Iím not worried."
Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston says heís not upset with the likes of Mark McGwire or Alex Rodriguez, sluggers who have admitted using PEDs in the past, but it does bother him that people will suggest Bautista might be juiced. ďI get upset with people who make those (comments). He works hard for everything he has achieved this year. Ever since we got him, he has never been a problem. He has gotten the opportunity to play more and he has run with it.
ďFifty is a big number. Itís the first time Iíve been on a team where someone has done it and it couldnít happen to a nicer guy.Ē
Information from the Toronto Sun and the Toronto Star was used in this report.
The main contributors to The Buzz are:
- Steve Silva, Boston.com senior sports producer
- Gary Dzen, Boston.com senior sports producer
- Zuri Berry, Boston.com sports producer