Bunt-Fest: Pillar bunts 7 times in minor league games
Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar makes a catch in the fourth inning of a spring training baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Saturday, March 18, 2017, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Mark Didtler, The Associated Press
Published Sunday, March 19, 2017 9:27PM EDT
TAMPA, Fla. - Kevin Pillar was back in the minors for a bunt-fest.
The Toronto Blue Jays centre fielder spent Sunday switching from a Triple-A exhibition game to a Double-A contest on adjacent fields, attempting to reach on bunt singles in all seven at-bats.
Pillar might need a little more practice - he went 0 for 7.
“It's something that I want to have as a tool, something in my back pocket,” he said. “Find another way to get on base. To be confident enough to get my bunt down, place it where I want to place it. A perfectly executed bunt is tough to defend, even if they know it's coming.”
Pillar has worked on bunting off a pitching machine and said it almost has become easy to place the ball.
Facing Yankees minor leaguers at New York's complex in Tampa, Florida, Pillar struck out in his first two at-bats on foul bunts with two strikes. After bunting the ball in the air to the first baseman on his next try, he got the final four attempts down but was thrown out each time.
“It's good for me to get out here and realize there's still a lot work to be done,” Pillar said. “It started out pretty bad and then a little bit better. So, I take that as a positive days work. I'll continue to work on it, and make it a part of my game as best that I can.”
Pillar hit .266 in 146 games last season.
Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis also took part in the minor league games as a designated hitter, and remains hopeful of being ready for the start of the regular season.
“That's my goal,” Travis said. “Things got to continue to progress the right way.”
Travis has been slowed by a bone bruise on his right knee, which had off-season surgery to remove a small flap of cartilage. He ran to first base at full speed.
“I'm just getting back into the flow of things,” Travis said.
Travis could play defence for the first time this week.