TORONTO – David Price threw 67% of his pitches for strikes in his debut on Monday afternoon.
And on Thursday afternoon, he was roughly the same, hitting the target 66% of the time.
What is Price doing throwing strikes on a Thursday when he should be resting before his Saturday start at the small band box in the Bronx against the New York Yankees?
Price was throwing for a good cause.
Outside the Rogers Centre between Gates 10 and 11 sat Jose Bautista on a platform above a dunk tank.
Price stood “10- to-15” feet away.
His first pitch missed the lever that would have dunked Bautista. “Two feet low,” said Price.
His second hit the lever but did not have enough force to set off the release mechanism. “Didn’t throw hard enough, I was bummed,” said Price.
And on the third toss, Price hit the target and the spring action devise worked.
Glub, glub, glub …
Down went Bautista as part of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge into a tub of ice water filled by Josh Donaldson and Aaron Sanchez.
Major League Baseball is donating $100,000 for ALS research this August, and next August, and every August until a cure for the disease, which affects 100,000 Canadians, is found.
Hopefully, there isn’t an Ice Bucket Challenge next August.
Besides Bautista getting wet, Ryan Goins slowly dumped a bucket of ice water on actress Lauren Holly ( Dumb and Dumber) and comedian Jerry Dee dumped a bucket on a grade-schooler.
A video of the event was shown in the fourth inning Thursday night after the Atlanta Braves had challenged the Jays. Price then threw down the gantlet at the Detroit Tigers to go next with the challenge to fight the disease which claimed the lives of Hall of Famers Lou Gehrig and Catfish Hunter.
After the Jays finished batting practice, five people wearing Bautista jerseys posed with pictures, received autographs and talked ball with the Jays star in the dugout.
Brock MacAlpine, a Woodstock resident, made the winning on bid during a silent auction at Bautista’s charity golf tournament last year for the right to visit him in the third-base dugout. He brought his wife Kelly and children Rebecca, 22, Jessie, 19 and John, 16.
Fans chant “2-Low” when Troy Tulowitzki leads off and scream “MVP, MVP” when No. 2, Josh Donaldson, follows him to the plate. Then, with Bautista … no chant.
There was a lot of applause when he hit his run-scoring double on Thursday, although not as much as when he hit his grand slam on Wednesday.
Fans such as the MacAlpine family haven’t forgotten the two-time major-league home run champ.
“When the Blue Jays phoned, they asked what kind of jerseys we wanted,” MacAlpine said. “This was after all the trades. I thought about David Price and Tulowitzki. We stuck with Jose. What are you going to do with a Price jersey next year? I mean, I hope we re-sign him, but it’s going to be tough.
“Jose has made a commitment to play in the city.”
MacAlpine was in the dugout because he went to Bautista’s golf tournament last year as a guest of a pal from Domino’s Pizza.
“It was the second (charity event) I’d ever gone to,” said MacAlpine, who previously attended one run by Maple Leafs’ Nazem Kadri. “I really didn’t know what to expect.
“Bautista was very giving of his time, did his best to make everyone welcome. We saw this caravan of golf carts come up and thought: ‘Oh Bautista is playing through.’ He got out of the cart and asked if we had time to have our picture taken with him.”
After the round, golfers returned to the clubhouse for dinner and, at each table, was a signed group photo taken while on the course.
“I looked at every picture at our table. It was not a stamped-on signature. Jose signed each and every picture. He must have signed 150 pictures,” said MacAlpine.
“Jose Bautista is not like a lot of athletes who sometimes get full of themselves.”
This year’s tourney, the third annual, goes Monday at Eagles Nest. Proceeds go to Jays Care as well as Bautista’s non-profit foundation, the Bautista Family Education Fund ( BautistaFund.org).
Bautista is trying to help more players from outside the U.S. grasp that college in the United States is a viable option to turning pro at 16, and the value of an education. Just as he attended Chipola College, earning a bachelor’s degree in business.
Basically, Bautista is carrying on the work of California businessman Don Odermann, who started the Latin Athletes Education Fund which enabled Bautista to reach Chipola.
A total of 27 students, including one Canadian are in the program. Infielder Yan Carlo Rivera is a freshman at LaSalle University in Philadelphia.
The Bautista Family Education is a good cause.
Ditto for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
Now, go get dunked.
by Bob Elliot, Toronto Sun