DUNEDIN, Fla. – The music player by Jose Bautista’s locker pumps out beats as the muscular Dominican slugger grooves in his chair, an arm reaching up in the air in time with the song.
Just as Bautista drives the Toronto Blue Jays with his bat, he helps fill the Dunedin clubhouse with music during spring training.
Bautista says he listens to “everything pretty much with a beat, nice melody and some rhythm.”
Anyone can plug in their iPod there.
“There’s no rule on who can use it. Whoever wants to play stuff, just play it,” says Bautista.
Reliever Sergio Santos sits kitty-corner from Bautista’s locker. He says the music rules are simple.
“As long as it’s good music (it stays). If it’s bad music it gets taken off.”
Pitcher Brandon Morrow, whose locker is close to the music player, smiles as he talks of the “Latin nightclub” feel to that corner of the clubhouse.
But the Bautista beatbox is no one-trick pony, pumping out Drake, Swedish House Mafia and Calvin Harris recently. The music doesn’t take over the clubhouse, but it does add atmosphere.
While the Bautista music player is not always on, the clubhouse gym is almost never silent as players work out.
The music is louder and more hardcore than in the clubhouse.
Depending on who has control of the player in the gym, it could be a steady diet of hip-hop or classic rock, everything from AC/DC to The Eagles and Bryan Adams.
Outfielder Colby Rasmus will listen to country when he’s relaxing. But if he’s working out, he might reach for Five Finger Death Punch.
Sounds loud, he’s told.
“It is loud,” Rasmus responded in his southern drawl.
But good loud, he adds.
The Alabama native doesn’t mind the Bautista beat, although “in short doses.”
“I don’t mind it, but sometimes it can give you a little headache.”
After a game, it’s country music to relax for Rasmus.
“Because this environment can get a little crazy sometimes. Just with guys throwing baseballs at 90, 100 miles an hour at you. It kind of gets your blood boiling a little bit.”
Others listen to their own music to the gym, opting for headphones.
Knuckleballer R.A Dickey, for example, marches to a different drum musically.
“I am a music fan and there’s something I feel I can appreciate in every genre but I have my favourites,” he said. “I’m a big fan of contemporary opera, to be perfectly honest, I really enjoy that, classic music.
“But there’s not a lot of that going on in the clubhouse,” he added with a laugh. “But it’s OK, there’s something I can appreciate from every genre I think.”
Drake has been heard in both areas of the clubhouse and all-star shortstop Jose Reyes says he plans to use the Toronto musician as his walkout music this season.
Back in Toronto, there is a sound system in the locker room that players can plug their iPod into to share the music.
And during games, players can choose their own soundtrack by selecting songs to accompany their trip to the mound or batting plate.
Last season, Rasmus opted for “Good to Go” by Alabama rapper Yelawolf. Santos chose the hard-driving “Dragula” by Rob Zombie.
The coaches go their own way.
During a recent interview, the noise from the gym drove pitching coach Pete Walker out of the clubhouse.
“Not my choice,” he said of the hip-hop. “Country music would be nice.”
Asked about the clubhouse music, easy-going manager John Gibbons laughed and said diplomatically: “Well it wouldn’t be my choice, probably a little different than what I would have on my (player).
“Anything but,” he added.
Asked what he listens to in his car, he said: “It’ll either be some country music or some southern rock n’ roll.”