KANSAS CITY -- Baseball works in strange ways sometimes, as anyone knows who remembers that the game's all-time saves leader, Trevor Hoffman, started as a shortstop in Cincinnati's system.
Sometimes an astute coach suggests something early on in a player's development, and it works.
Back when Bautista spent barely more than a month with Kansas City in 2004, then-bench coach Bob Schaefer thought that just maybe ...
"I really liked him a lot," Schaeffer, who served under then-manager Tony Pena, says. "He was a third baseman-outfielder. He could run, but he didn't have great speed. He really didn't have a position.
"I told him one day that if I was manager, I'd talk to you about catching."
Schaefer grinned at the memory.
"He told me, 'I'm glad you're not the manager.' But his hands were good. I could see some bat quickness. He didn't know how to hit yet, but I liked his athletic ability."
"I was in the cage one day," he says. "But there's no way. I know I was a rookie and a young guy and I probably shouldn't be saying where I should or shouldn't play, but I don't think a move to the backstop is something I would have agreed with or ever done.
"Especially as a Rule V guy, no way. I don't have the defensive ability or the game-calling ability that a catcher [should] have."
Bautista is very intelligent and athletic, so maybe he could have learned.
We'll never know. It was just one of those fleeting ideas during a very unsettled season for him.
And he's done OK for himself since.
"I saw him in spring training," says Schaefer, now a scout for the Nationals after a stint on Joe Torre's coaching staff with the Dodgers the past few seasons. "He gets tremendous backspin on the ball. It's not surprising, these home runs, because when he hits the ball, it keeps carrying.
"He just didn't know how to hit back then. He's learned how to hit."