Entering May 30 of last season, Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista had 74 career home runs in parts of six major league seasons. Since then, Bautista has turned into one of the most feared sluggers in baseball, slugging 59 home runs in a year's time.
His sudden transformation has led some to question his use of PEDs. Sunday, though, a former ballplayer hinted at another illegal "home run-hitting tactic."
Ken "Hawk" Harrelson, former Red Sox first baseman and current broadcaster for the Chicago White Sox, had the opportunity to watch Bautista play this past weekend as Toronto hosted Chicago. Bautista hit .500 for the series with a home run and three RBIs, leading the commentator into making quite the bold statement.
"That ball's just jumping off his bat," Harrelson said, "If you didn't know better, you?d say [his bat] had a little cork in it."
Harrelson did do an admirable job of prefacing his comment with "If you didn?t know better," but his theory is certainly plausible. It wouldn't be the first time that an endearing slugger shocked many with a corked bat.
Bautista credits his home run swing to a switch in mechanics initiated by former manager Cito Gaston and former hitting coach Dwayne Murphy. This season, Bautista is batting .350 with 20 home runs and 36 RBIs.