TORONTO – When Bo Bichette swings, he spares no effort. His left leg kicks, his torso rotates and his hair flies. If he connects, the ball goes a long way.
With four home runs through his first 12 big-league games, Bichette has shown that his power plays at the MLB level. But what happens when he misses is also interesting for those intrigued by baseball’s unwritten rules. Consider what Bichette said Thursday after he fell to the ground with an epic swing and miss only to homer on the next pitch.
“Other teams don’t like when rookies take big swings,” he explained. “A lot of times when a rookie does that they kind of want to prove something, so I knew I might get a pitch to hit.”
Let’s take that in for a moment. Other teams don’t like it when rookies take big swings?
“Definitely back in the day that was the case,” Grichuk continued. “There are so many unwritten rules. If there was a veteran pitcher on the mound (facing Bichette, instead of Domingo German), would he have gotten mad? The game’s changing so much, so I would hope not personally, but back in the day I could totally see that happening.”
History aside, the unwritten rules around big swings appear to be changing for the better. Grichuk might not care for bat flips, but he has no problem with big swings. Around the Blue Jays’ clubhouse, others agreed.
“Honestly, if someone from the other team swings hard, so what?” manager Charlie Montoyo said. “That doesn’t bother me.”
And if someone plunked a rookie like Bichette for taking a big cut? “That bothers me,” Montoyo said. “Save it.” So far, Montoyo’s patience hasn’t been tested on that front–even on the team that leads MLB in games played by rookies.
At a time that home runs are leaving parks in record numbers, it’s no longer surprising to see the backup catcher or utility infielder go yard. Under those circumstances, you can hardly get mad at a player who takes his cuts.
“I think that’s more old-school,” said Blue Jays catcher Danny Jansen. “Right now it’s all these kids who are superstars coming up young. They can play and that’s how they swing. Back in the day if you swung like that, you’d probably get drilled. That’s just back in the day, though. I wouldn’t say it’s like that anymore.”
When Jansen’s catching and an opposing rookie hitter swings for the fences, he’s not thinking beanball. Maybe there’s a little extra incentive to finish the hitter off, though.
“It makes you want to punch him out more,” Jansen said.
That’s seemingly as far as the retribution goes. While baseball’s unwritten rules might once have compelled pitchers to retaliate for swings deemed over-ambitious, now there’s really no such thing.
As Grichuk says, pitchers are “giving it their all, we can give it our all.”
In other words, keep swinging, Bo.
Originally published at https://www.sportsnet.ca/baseball/mlb/unwritten-rules-changing-welcome-big-cuts-rookies-like-bichette/