BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) — A slight breeze off Lake Erie, but especially Bo Bichette’s speed on the basepaths, caused the Toronto Blue Jays shortstop to lose his helmet and let his hair flow in all its glory at Sahlen Field.
Bichette appeared close to his All-Star form in the first game of his rehab stint with the Bisons on Wednesday. The American League leaders struck 2-3 and delivered two singles as the designated hitter in Buffalo’s 5-4, 11-innings loss to the Rochester Red Wings. Bichette also tested recovery from patellar tendon in his right knee with a sprint from first base to set a run in the second inning.
“I think it was definitely a good first step,” Bichette said after exiting the game in the sixth inning. “I won’t lie, I was hoping to get stopped,” he said at third base with a smile, “but it was a good first day going home from first base.”
Bichette, who has been on the disabled list since Aug. 2, is scheduled to play shortstop Thursday night in Buffalo. If all goes well, he will return to the big club in Cincinnati on Friday. The Blue Jays started two games behind the Astros on Wednesday and were in contention for the last AL wildcard spot.
“I’m ready for this,” Bichette said. “It’s the best time of the year. The adrenaline rises, the game counts, every shot counts, every pitch counts.”
Bichette is a familiar face in Buffalo. He played 56 games for the Bisons in 2019 and returned in the 2020 and 2021 seasons when the Blue Jays took up residence at Sahlen Field during the coronavirus pandemic.
After the first scheduled game of Bichette’s rehab stint on Tuesday was rainy, there was a large crowd for Wednesday’s afternoon game under sunny skies. The lines at the gate stretched past the first pitch at 1:08 p.m. Most of the paid crowd announced at 9,851 spectators sat in their seats to cheer on Bichette before his opening shot, a hacking groundout on the first pitch he saw.
“The fans seemed excited to see me,” Bichette said. “You cheered me on. That’s cool. It’s good to be back. It’s nice to see some people I haven’t seen in a while and it’s nice to see how they’re doing. Obviously this is a step to get where I want to be. But it’s cool.”
Bichette completed batting and infield practice at Sahlen Field ahead of Wednesday’s game.
“He’s out here at a game on Wednesday, taking groundballs before the game,” says manager Casey Candaele told The Herd Chronicles. “Just the dedication and making sure he’s continually honing his craft is good for any young player who wants to see what it takes to become a big league player.”
Relief pitcher Chad Green, also on rehab, knocked out the team in the fifth inning before conceding two hits and a run in the sixth inning. Green suffered a concussion after being hit in the head by a ball during a game in Buffalo last week. … Another rehab reliever, Trevor Richards, knocked out a batsman and walked with another in a scoreless seventh inning. … Orelvis Martinez, one of Buffalo’s top Blue Jays contenders, hit a 455-foot home run in the sixth game and leveled the score. … The first 2,000 fans to attend Thursday’s game will receive Candaele bobble heads.
Jonah Bronstein joined the WIVB roster in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. Born in western New York, he has covered the Bills, Sabers, Bandits, Bison, colleges, high schools and other notable sporting events in the area for publications such as The Associated Press, The Buffalo News and Niagara Gazette since 2005. Read more about his work here.