José Bautista silenced his critics and became baseball’s most powerful hitter. Now, after a potentially career-ending surgery, he must prove himself all over again
It was July 16 of last year, a day game. More than 42,000 people in Yankee Stadium, and a few million sitting on couches at home, had watched Blue Jays slugger José Bautista swing at an inside fastball, just as he had thousands of times before. It had become his specialty, swinging at that pitch. Crushing it. And he’d done it again, whipping his bat around at an ungodly speed and slamming the ball far into the stands in left field. All eyes, at home and in the stadium, watched that ball sail long and foul. Then they turned back to the star at the plate, but he wasn’t there.
He was staggering toward his team’s dugout, toward people who could help him, holding his left forearm. He called out and sank toward the ground. At the end of his swing, he’d heard a popping crack in his flesh and felt a knife stab of pain. He thought he’d broken or dislocated his wrist.