Biggio continues to play beyond his age

Bunt double latest example of Blue Jays rookie's savvy and hustle

September 28th, 2019

TORONTO -- has done it all for the Blue Jays this September as he rounds out his rookie season on a high note, but a savvy bunt double in Friday night’s 6-2 loss to the Rays at Rogers Centre stands above the rest.

Tampa Bay -- which clinched an American League Wild Card berth with the victory -- played a four-man outfield against Biggio in the bottom of the sixth, leaving Brandon Lowe as the lone defender on the left side of the infield. Seeing Lowe lined up as a shallow shortstop, Biggio squared to bunt, which drew Lowe in. Just as the pitch reached Biggio’s bat, though, he jabbed at it, popping it up over Lowe and pitcher Colin Poche.

The ball fell into no-man’s land, and by the time Willy Adames ran over to scoop it up, Biggio was sliding into second. Even for a young player whose mental game is lauded at every level of the organization, the play showed that Biggio sees the game at a different speed sometimes.

“Ever since I’ve been in the big leagues playing against the Rays, they’ve played four outfielders against me,” Biggio said. “The whole middle of the field is open on the infield, so when I went into that at-bat against Poche, being a left-handed pitcher, I was just trying to bunt it really hard off the barrel. In the air, I didn’t really mean for it to go that high, but [I aimed for] in the air, right back up the middle. It was a curveball up, so I think that’s why I got under it more than I planned on.”

There’s a constant dialogue in the dugout about these situations as any game unfolds, but manager Charlie Montoyo typically leaves it up to his players to decide the right time to lay down a bunt. The only question he asks, to hitting coach Guillermo Martínez, is whether the player has been working on his bunting lately.

Biggio gets his normal bunting practice in, like any player. Most rounds of batting practice open with a couple of bunts -- some days being more of a focus than others -- and it’s something that Biggio worked on more in the Minor Leagues as he rose through the system. Friday’s bunt, though, was Biggio adjusting on the fly to a unique opportunity.

“I’ve never practiced that,” Biggio said. "I used to practice a lot to bring the ball with me, especially on a left-handed pitcher. It’s just one of those things where I was going to try first pitch and, if I didn’t get the pitch to do it on, go battle.”

Biggio racked up some extra accolades on Friday night, too. In the first inning, he walked to extend his on-base streak to 27 games, which tied him with Russ Adams (2005) for the longest streak by a Blue Jays rookie in franchise history. Biggio then stole second base, making him 14-for-14 in stolen-base attempts this season. That extended a club record he already owns for the most successful steal attempts to open a career.

Prior to Sunday’s game, Montoyo spoke at length about Biggio’s value in the clubhouse. From coaches and management to veterans and fellow rookies, Biggio’s voice carries weight.

“When he first got here, I told him, ‘I know you’re young, but go ahead and be a leader. I know that’s what you like to do,’” Montoyo said. “He’s doing a good job of that right now. 'Even though you’re a rookie, go ahead, it’s your clubhouse.'”