Bautista helping Escobar's transition to Jays

Bautista helping Escobar's transition to Jays

BALTIMORE -- Not long after acquiring shortstop Yunel Escobar in a trade with the Braves this week, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos called Jose Bautista. Anthopoulos asked the outfielder if he would help Escobar get accustomed to his new team and city.

It meant a lot to Bautista.

"It feels good that he thinks highly enough to give me that call," Bautista said. "With a guy as talented as Escobar, knowing that we acquired him, Alex wants to get the best out of him. If he thinks I can help that, obviously, is a tremendous compliment."

It could be a sign that Anthopoulos views Bautista as a emerging leader within the Blue Jays' clubhouse. That leads to questions about whether Toronto may be leaning toward discussing a contract extension with the right fielder rather than dealing him away before the July 31 Trade Deadline.

Bautista -- under contract for $2.4 million with one year of arbitration remaining -- certainly would have value on the trade market, considering he currently leads the Major Leagues with 25 home runs and has the ability to play multiple positions. Bautista would prefer to remain with the Jays.

"Definitely, and I hope so," Bautista said. "That being said, I still know that this is a business and these are the two weeks that [Anthopoulos] is going to be in crunch time. He's going to have to figure out what happens. Sometimes he doesn't want to trade people, but if he gets a good enough offer, he's got to do it.

"We'll see what happens. I hope that's not the case for me. I like it here. I like this clubhouse and I like the team. I think we've got a good thing going here, and I'd like to be a part of the future. But, we'll see what the future holds."

As for Escobar, Bautista said he can relate a little bit to the shortstop's situation.

In 2008, Bautista was traded to the Blue Jays by the Pirates and there were rumblings that the outfielder had some attitude issues. Similarly, Escobar was heavily criticized after being dealt away to Toronto. Various reports questioned the shortstop's effort on the field and attitude in the clubhouse.

"The only difference is I wasn't really aware of the reputation that supposedly came with me," Bautista said. "Compared to him, his has been thrown in the spotlight by the media. Even when I found out when I got here, when I was told that I had this reputation or whatever, I was definitely surprised.

"I think the biggest thing for us is to just get to know him for who he is. Let his words and actions speak for themselves, and kind of not worry about what happened in Atlanta. I knew him a little bit [before the trade]. I always knew he was flashy and he played with emotions and everything, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.