KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Toronto Blue Jays’ lineup suddenly looks like it belongs in the late 1990s.
There’s a Biggio at designated hitter. Guerrero at third base. And after his call-up before the Blue Jays opened a three-game series at Kansas City, there is a Bichette in the infield.
Only it’s not Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, it’s his 24-year-old son Cavan. And it’s not Vladimir Guerrero, it’s his 20-year-old son Vlad Jr. And it’s not longtime big league outfielder Dante Bichette, it’s his 21-year-old son Bo, who gives the Blue Jays a unique trio of legacy players.
Bichette’s promotion came one day after Toronto traded pitcher Marcus Stroman to the Mets for two pitching prospects and shipped infielder Eric Sogard to the Rays for a pair of players to be named.
And he was thrown right into the starting lineup, batting sixth against the Royals.
“They’ve got the tools to be here. It’s just the mental grind of being here,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “Of course, this is the best baseball of anywhere you’re going to face. You’re going to go through ups and downs. It depends on how strong you are here” — he pointed to his head — “how long you can go. It’s about staying even-keeled at this level.”
Biggio, who was considered the Blue Jays’ top prospect and among the best in baseball, hit .275 with eight homers and 32 RBIs for Triple-A Buffalo. But the biggest reason for his arrival Monday was the fact that his defense, which has long been questioned, had shown major strides in the minors.
“If you’re going to be a championship team in the big leagues, your shortstop has got to, for sure, pick it, and then hit,” Montoyo said. “The best teams in baseball, their shortstop is their best player or one of their best players. Going from team to team: Dodgers, Boston, Yankees. They’re a good (defensive) shortstop and they hit, both. If we want to get there he needs to do both.”
He has two young teammates to lean on for support.
Guerrero was among the biggest story lines of spring training, when his productive bat and solid defense at third base wowed just about everyone who saw him. Guerrero has had a successful debut season, too, hitting .259 with 10 homers and 38 RBIs heading into Monday night’s game.
Biggio is hitting .205 with seven homers and 24 RBIs while playing just about everywhere: first base, second base, right field, left field and the role of designated hitter.
“The opportunity really presented itself and they felt as though he was ready for it,” general manager Ross Atkins said. “Sure, there could have been continued development, but we had the opportunity for him with playing time on an everyday basis. And that was a piece of their decision-making process, that we didn’t want him to come here if it meant he wasn’t going to play on an everyday basis.”
“There was still room for him to grow as an overall player at Triple-A,” Atkins added, “but we felt as though the timing was right for the next challenge.”
Bichette’s arrival means Freddy Galvis will become the primary second baseman. But he was scratched from Monday’s lineup because of lower back tightness.
“I had the conversation with Freddy before Bo got called up,” Montoyo said, “and Freddy is just awesome. He said, ‘I’ll do anything. I like playing for you. I’ll go anywhere.’ Because we knew there was a chance Eric Sogard was going to be traded. When that happened we knew Bo was going to come up.”
His arrival gives the Blue Jays a trio of players with huge shoes to fill. The elder Biggio went to seven All-Star games while playing his entire 20-year career in Houston, and Guerrero Sr. was a nine-time All-Star over 16 seasons with the Expos, Angels, Rangers and Orioles. Bichette’s father was a four-time All-Star while playing 14 seasons with the Angels, Brewers, Rockies, Reds and Red Sox.
“It makes you feel old,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “You played against those guys, and coached against those dads. When you hit the road, they were just little kids running around the clubhouse.
“It’s going to be fun to watch them grow. They’re going to be fun to watch.”
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