Sept. 25 (UPI) — Six-time All-Star Jose Bautista received an emotional send off Sunday in what was likely his final home game at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada.
The Toronto Blue Jays right-fielder signed a one-year contract with the team last offseason. Although the deal does have an option for 2018, the Blue Jays aren’t expected to pick up their half of the option.
Manager John Gibbons pulled Bautista out of the game in the ninth inning Sunday so that he could get a standing ovation while walking off the field.
He ran off the field as the crowd cheered for about a minute and a half.
Bautista also received a tribute to start the game. In the top of the first inning, his teammates remained in the dugout when he took the field by himself. The crowd of 47,394 roared in appreciation of “Joey Bats.”
“A lot of feelings,” Bautista told MLB.com after the game. “It’s probably hard to narrow down just one or the one that stuck out the most. There were a lot of things that go through your head quickly at that moment. I don’t quite remember exactly all of the things that I was thinking about. It was kind of a blur to me, but I enjoyed it.”
Bautista was 2-for-4 in the contest with a run scored, an RBI and a walk. He skyrocketed a foul ball for an out in his final at-bat for the Blue Jays. Toronto beat the New York Yankees 9-5.
The 36-year-old ranks No. 2 in home runs and walks in Blue Jays history. He also ranks in the top five in franchise history for games played, runs scored, total bases, RBI and WAR.
Bautista entered Major League Baseball as a 20th round pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 200 MLB June Amateur Draft.
He is hitting .203 this season with 22 home runs and 62 RBI. Bautista has a career .250 batting average with 330 home runs over 14 seasons.
There are six games remaining in the season for Toronto. The Blue Jays (73-83) sit in last place in the American League East.
“The focus was Jose today — what he’s done in this town, for this organization and really the country,” Gibbons told reporters after the game. “He helped rebuild the team. He was the face of the franchise for a number of years, and he did it the right way.”