Bautista speaks to youth at anti-PED event

Blue Jays slugger on advisory board of Taylor Hooton Foundation

ARLINGTON -- Jose Bautista met with a group of youth baseball players on Friday afternoon to stress the importance of achieving success the right way and avoiding the temptation of experimenting with performance-enhancing drugs.

The event was hosted by the Taylor Hooton Foundation, which educates youth on the dangers of performance- and appearance-enhancing drugs. The foundation is based in nearby McKinney, and Bautista sits on its advisory board as a charter member.

The foundation was formed in memory of Taylor E. Hooton, a high school student who took his own life at age 17 in 2003 after using anabolic steroids. According to the foundation, Taylor's parents, family and friends founded the organization after learning of the growing number of middle school, high school and college students using PEDs.

"Days like today are good days because I get to reach more than one at the same time, and hopefully it's a crowd that's listening, that's eager, and I think they are," Bautista said. "I don't think they would have taken time out of their day to come to this specific event if they weren't looking for that advice.

"I think when they hear it coming from me -- I'm still active, I'm still successful and I have taken a pledge to continue to play at this level without the use of prohibitive substances -- I think the message will go a long way. They'll go back to all their teams and their high schools and their leagues and they'll relay those messages, and hopefully that way it reaches more kids."

Bautista gave a short speech to the youth in attendance and then participated in a question-and-answer session. He has been a proud supporter of the foundation and frequently wears the organization's T-shirt that says "All Me, PED Free."

The Hooton Foundation encourages all young athletes to sign the pledge and "Tell others that when they compete against you, they are competing against 'All Me' -- no drugs, just hard work, proper diet and exercise."

Bautista told the youth that in today's Internet age there is no excuse for not having the resources to learn about how to enjoy healthy living. There are lots of websites that outline proper nutrition and training for appropriate age groups for athletes and people who want to live a healthy lifestyle.

"It means a lot," Bautista said of being an active member. "I think the way that I look at it is, when I was growing up, I had plenty of people giving me advice, and today, I'm the one in a position to do that for other kids. It'd be pretty bad if I didn't take these opportunities in order to send those messages out to these kids, [messages] that helped me when I was growing up."

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.