The roster move has not been officially announced by the Toronto Blue Jays, but Luke Scott was still at Coca-Cola Field, taking batting practice Friday afternoon.
The veteran slugger was eager to get started with his new team, even if he wasn’t officially on the roster for the Buffalo Bisons, who lost Friday’s game to the Toledo Mud Hens, 4-3.
“It’s another opportunity to play, get a chance to do well and hopefully get back to the Major Leagues,” Scott said Friday in the Bisons’ clubhouse. “More so than anything, it’s just an opportunity to play the game I love and see where it goes from there.”
It’s still uncertain when Scott will get his opportunity to play for the Bisons. Manager Gary Allenson said there were still some issues the Blue Jays were working out to officially acquire Scott from the Mexican league team he had been with.
“They’re still working on that, still trying to finalize something from where he came from,” Allenson said. “I’ll know more tomorrow.”
Scott played nine seasons in the big leagues with the Houston Astros, Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays. He spent 2014 playing in Korea and began this year in the Mexican League, enjoying those international experiences, but keenly interested when the Blue Jays were interested in signing him as a minor league free agent.
“I have a lot of experience playing against the Blue Jays,” Scott said. “I played six years in the American League East and they’ve always been a good organization. They’ve always put some good teams on the field. Just the opportunities are here. They’re really trying to win. Hopefully if I can do well here I can get an opportunity to contribute to the team up there. I think that would be a great situation for both sides.”
While Scott is looking for an opportunity to return to the Major Leagues, the Bisons could use his offense. Scott hit best for average with the Astros (.273 over three seasons) and best for production in Baltimore (236 RBI, 84 home runs over four seasons). His numbers dipped in two seasons with the Rays and after the 2013 season the teams parted ways, and Scott went to Korea.
“Mexico was interesting,” Scott said. “Baseball in a Latin American culture is awesome. I’ve had experience playing in Venezuela and it was a great time. They play with a lttle bit of flavor ... They’re spicy when they play. They like to have fun. They’re very elaborate, emotional and colorful.”
His play on the field felt pretty good, too.
“It was the first time in a while I played the field every day,” said Scott, who spent the majority of the last few years as a designated hitter. “I played first base every day and got my mind off just hitting. It was a great experience.
“I’ve been working on some things as far as my own hitting is concerned. I’ve been working to get better by watching video of some of the best of all time. Studying Barry Bonds and his swing … seeing why he was successful. He had no weaknesses in the strike zone. I’ve been taking things like that from other players who are really good. Just trying to take pieces of it and make it my own.”
Scott doesn’t shy away from making things his own, or speaking his mind.
In 2010 he did an interview with Yahoo! Sports which was extremely critical of President Barack Obama. Also that year, he opposed a Major League Baseball rule which prohibited guns and other deadly weapons from clubhouses and is a vocal supporter of gun rights.
His remarks caused a wide array of reaction from fans and the media, something Scott understands and expects.
“It’s kind of expected,” Scott said. “You don’t have to look very far to see people can say something about something and you’re going to have critics and you’re going to have people who support it. That’s just life.
“I have different opinions than other people and people have different opinions than me. They’re entitled to them. That’s the great thing about having freedom. You have freedom to have your own opinion. I choose to handle myself a little bit different. I don’t go after people for having different beliefs. That’s their choice.”
Scott continues to be himself on the field, albeit a bit older and wiser. The 36-year old has retained his love of the game while adjusting to changes that come for aging athletes.
“I’ve been in the game for a long time and in professional baseball since 2001. What’s changed? My body’s changed a little bit,” Scott said. “You don’t feel the same when you go out there and play but at the same time, the experience that you have is different. Having more experience slows the game down.”