TORONTO â€” Veteran slugger Jose Bautista will return to the Toronto Blue Jays next season after signing a one-year deal with options that could keep him in Toronto through 2019.
Here’s a look back at five memorable moments in Bautista’s career:
7TH IN THE 6IX
As far as Toronto home runs go, Bautista’s blast in Game 5 of the 2015 American League Division Series is second only to Joe Carter’s walkoff shot to win the 1993 World Series.
The pivotal game against the Texas Rangers included a wild seventh inning that had it all. Texas scored on a bizarre play in the top half of the frame but Toronto tied it in the bottom half to set the stage for Bautista.
He turned on a Sam Dyson pitch for a three-run shot that sent the Rogers Centre crowd into hysterics. Bautista added an epic bat flip that became a talking point around the baseball world.
The Blue Jays went on to advance to the American League Championship Series for the first time in 22 years.
Bautista displayed flashes of his potential before joining the Blue Jays in a 2008 trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 2010, he showed that he was the real deal.
His 50th homer of the season came on Sept. 23 of that year and it was classic Bautista. He pulled a pitch to left field for a rainbow shot that landed in the home bullpen at Rogers Centre.
Instead of the usual high-fives in the dugout, many teammates gave him hugs for reaching the plateau. Bautista then hopped up the dugout steps to tip his hat to the home crowd.
He finished the season with 54 homers, 124 RBIs, 351 total bases and a .617 slugging percentage â€” all still career bests.
The Rangers-Blue Jays rivalry reached another level last May when the teams met at Globe Life Park.
Bautista slid hard into Rougned Odor at second base and the Texas infielder took exception.
Odor clocked Bautista with a stiff right hook that triggered a bench-clearing brawl. Several players were ejected and suspensions followed.
Odor showed he can punch with the best of them and Bautista displayed a chin that would make a boxer proud.
Pitcher Darren O’Day had some history with Bautista leading up to a game between the Baltimore Orioles and Blue Jays on April 12, 2015.
Words had been exchanged between the two players over the years and tension rose again in the eighth inning that day.
O’Day threw a pitch behind Bautista before the Toronto outfielder turned on a full-count offering for a two-run blast that gave the Blue Jays a 10-7 lead.
A rather pleased Bautista skipped for a few steps before settling into his home run trot.
Fans at Target Field had to sit through a rain delay prior to the start of the home run derby ahead of the 2014 all-star game.
Bautista’s performance made it worth the wait.
He distanced himself from the field by launching 10 home runs in the first round of the competition.
Bautista earned a bye to the semifinal before falling to eventual winner Yoenis Cespedes.
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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press