Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette saw nothing but success over his first three MLB seasons.
He came out of the gate firing when first called up in 2019, posted an .840 OPS in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, then led the American League in hits and was named an All-Star in 2021.
It's been a different story through the first five months of the 2022 campaign. The 24-year-old is slumping at the plate with a .262/.307/.423 slash line and is striking out in a quarter of his at-bats. Defensively, he's made the third-most errors in MLB with 16.
Those struggles on both sides of the ball have made him the target of Blue Jays' fans ire, but team president Mark Shapiro says Bichette is his own toughest critic.
"No one's as hard on Bo as he is on himself," Shapiro said during an interview with Sportsnet 590 The FAN on Wednesday. "That's probably one of the things he's going to have to figure out how to handle over his career. He's so driven to be an elite player that he's never satisfied with his effort, he's never satisfied with the outcomes.
"To me, his athleticism, his knowledge and love of the game, and his drive are a good bet over time. He probably wants to be better but I'm not sure he'll ever not want to be better."
There's still time for Bichette to right the ship on this disappointing season. A strong performance down the stretch to help the Blue Jays make the playoffs and contend for the World Series would take the sting out of the underwhelming individual statistics.
Here are some other takeaways from Shapiro's interview:
Toronto All-Star Game on the horizon?
Sportsnet's Shi Davidi reported in July that Toronto made a bid to host the 2027 All-Star Game, with Shapiro confirming the news on Wednesday. He feels the looming upgrades to Rogers Centre will make Toronto an ideal candidate to host the event.
"The renovation is going to make the building capable and a showcase that fits the city and the country and the team," Shapiro said. "It's been 30 years since an All-Star Game has been here. Think about how much this city has changed during that time. The city has grown astronomically since then.
"There's so much to show off, there's so much to showcase. I can't imagine a better showcase for Major League Baseball than to have the Midsummer Classic in Toronto."
Romano's inspirational season
Speaking of All-Stars, closer Jordan Romano has been dominant for Toronto this season. The Markham, Ont., native owns a 2.15 ERA over 49 appearances with 28 saves on the year.
Romano has thoroughly impressed Shapiro, and the executive thinks having such a crucial member of the team hail from the area can do wonders for Canadian baseball.
"It's a great story," Shapiro said. "When the lights go down and the red lights and Canadian flag come up and a kid from the Greater Toronto Area jogs in to take the mound and close out games for us and is doing it at an elite, All-Star level, how incredible is that?
"How cool is that for the city and the country to have the pride that one of the most important players on our team was raised in this area and grew up being a fan of the team he's pitching for. Every kid dreams about that."
Shapiro went on to praise how Romano is able to rebound from blown saves and tough stretches and still maintain his confidence while being an exceptional teammate.
Schneider's audition going well
Shapiro has also been pleased with how interim manager John Schneider has been doing since taking over for the fired Charlie Montoyo prior to the All-Star break. The Blue Jays have continued to be a streaky team under Schneider's guidance, going 24-16 through his first 40 games at the helm.
Shapiro thinks Schneider's wealth of experience in different parts of the organization have helped him tremendously in his transition to his new role.
"He's been great," Shapiro said. "He's got the incredible advantage of having spent decades within this organization... It's been comfortable for him. It's not a role you can ever really prepare for.
"I think he's lifted so many positive things around our team and he's been great."
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