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Bautista says he believes the 2015 Jays will wear their hearts on their sleeve

02/27/2015 02:36 EST | Updated 04/29/2015 05:59 EDT
DUNEDIN, Fla. - Toronto Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista looks back and doesn't much like what he sees.

"It's been a disappointment for me, on the players' side, that we haven't done a better job playing baseball and it's led to the seasons that we've had," he said Friday after Toronto's first full workout of the spring.

"We've been an average team, comprised of better-than-average players. To me that's not satisfying to know that I was part of those teams."

The 34-year-old outfielder, who has remained the Jays' marquee man through a recent revolving-door influx of big-ticket additions, wonders whether he could have done more.

Still he's not about to dwell on the past.

"Whatever happened last year and how many days we were in first (place in the AL East) and where we ended up and all that stuff, it's in the past," he said. "We just need to focus on this year. We have a much better team in place I feel like and we just need to go after this year."

One reason for his optimism is the revamped roster around him.

"We might have some guys in here now that are maybe an uptick or two more competitive than some guys that have been here in the past," he said.

Marquee catcher Russell Martin and third baseman Josh Donaldson have clearly brought more than all-star credentials.

Proven winners, says manager John Gibbons, whose team finished third in the American League East last season with an 83-79 record.

"There's just something about these guys. They're energetic," he said. "We've been here a week but they're bringing things that we're looking for."

"This time of year everybody's optimistic and excited, but I am more so this year than I have been," he added.

Asked about Donaldson, Bautista said the former Oakland player is "really competitive and he's not afraid to show it."

"We need something along those lines here every now and then. It's good to have guys to whom winning matters and it's important, and they get to show it with passion when they don't perform up to their capabilities."

Bautista said some past Jays teammates had kept their emotions in check.

"You walk around after a loss of a crucial game or a bad beating that you took and sometimes you see people and you don't know what they're thinking," he said. "I'd rather at least know. I can't say that I can read minds. And I can't say that I thought that guy didn't care. But if I don't know, it makes me think.

"I rather look at you, we got our butts handed to us 10-0 or 9-1, I'd rather be able to see you and your body language and your facial expressions and know that you're upset that we got our butts kicked. And some people in the past, I can't say that was there. Without naming any names and it's not that big of a deal, it's not what led to the seasons we had."

"It's just something nice to see," he said of the more vocal members of the locker-room.

Surrounded by reporters, Bautista is as much a clubhouse lawyer as he is a baseball player. He's not keen on inquiries that call for speculation. And no shrinking violet, he will preface an answer with what he thinks of the question.

But he knows his clubhouse.

"Jose's one of the top players in the game," said Gibbons. "He's been around the game. He knows what's going on out there. So when he speaks, there's some truth to it."

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