TORONTO -- His name is Jose Bautista, but when the six-time All Star takes the field later this month, fans can simply refer to him as "Joey Bats."• Players Weekend gear available at MLBShop.comBautista's nickname, along with those of his teammates, will be prominently displayed on the back of Toronto
TORONTO -- His name is Jose Bautista, but when the six-time All Star takes the field later this month, fans can simply refer to him as "Joey Bats."
• Players Weekend gear available at MLBShop.com
Bautista's nickname, along with those of his teammates, will be prominently displayed on the back of Toronto uniforms from Friday-Sunday. It's all part of the inaugural Players Weekend, which is designed to allow athletes to show off their personalities.
The nicknames are one of several temporary changes Major League Baseball will make to its uniform rules. Players also will be encouraged to wear uniquely colored and designed spikes, batting gloves, compression sleeves and bats. Game-worn jerseys will be auctioned off, with proceeds going to the MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation.
"I think it's just another way to engage with the Players' Union and get players involved when it comes to on-the-field stuff," Bautista said. "Creating something different where we can have a little bit of input in the jersey and shoes. Make it a little bit different and a little bit more fun. I think it's going to be great."
Bautista has been named one of the ambassadors for this event because of his close ties to the union and his outreach on social media. He'll be helping to bring awareness to the cause to a following that includes more than 1.28 million people on Twitter and another 800-plus thousand on Instagram.
As part of the weekend events, players will wear a special patch showing the progression of a child evolving into a Major Leaguer. Under that logo is a white space, and every player will mark the name of a person to whom they are grateful for helping them advance their careers. In Bautista's words, it was an easy choice to pick his mother, Sandra, because "she was by far the person who influenced me the most growing up."
Players will also have a chance to wear T-shirts during batting practice and postgame interviews to highlight a specific charity or cause of their choice. All of Bautista's teammates will be participating in the Players Weekend as well, so expect to see a Bringer of Rain uniform for Josh Donaldson.
It's all for a good cause, with proceeds going to the Youth Development Foundation, a joint effort established in July 2015 by MLB and the MLBPA, with an initial commitment of $30 million focused on improving the caliber, effectiveness and availability of amateur baseball and softball programs across the U.S. and Canada.
"Every time [MLB] keeps us involved and in the loop I think it's good," Bautista said. "Hopefully it happens again. ... We're focused on putting on a good show during the game and working on our craft -- just showing up and being ready to contribute on the field -- but it's not bad when they do keep us involved."
Here's a list of nicknames that some Blue Jays are expected to sport on the back of their jerseys on Players Weekend:
• Josh Donaldson: "BRINGER OF RAIN"
• Marcus Stroman: "STRO-SHOW"
• Justin Smoak: "MOAKEY"
• Jose Bautista: "JOEY BATS"
• Kevin Pillar: "PILL"
• Marco Estrada: "ESTRADABIEN"
• J.A. Happ: "HAPPER"
• Kendrys Morales: "MO MO"
• Roberto Osuna: "NO PANIC"
• Russell Martin: "MUSCLE"
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his pod,cast.