TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays appear to have gotten lucky with Jose Bautista as the star slugger expects to avoid the disabled list after an MRI exam Monday revealed only a minor strain in his left hamstring.
How long he’ll be out is uncertain – yup, he’s in the dreaded day-to-day grey zone – but there is no major damage in his leg that needs to heal. Instead, Bautista must continually test out his leg until he feels it’s strong enough to avoid re-injury.
"If I feel like I’m going to make it worse by starting to play again, I’d be doing the team and myself a disservice," he told reporters before the opener of a series against the New York Yankees. "I’ve got to know that I’m at least not going to make it worse.
"If my recovery becomes slower, or if I still have to deal with some pain playing, I can handle that, but if there’s an increased chance of me making it worse by playing, I can’t do that."
Despite the limbo, the MRI results were about as close to ideal as the Blue Jays could have received. With Brett Lawrie out 3-6 weeks with a fractured right index finger, they can scarcely afford an extended absence for Bautista, too.
Those fears, at least for now, were quieted.
"I heard definitely some of the best news I could have gotten," Bautista said of his MRI. "I could have gotten the news of a torn hamstring, or a higher grade strain, but it’s the lowest grade strain, grade one, so it’s day-by-day. How it feels is the biggest determinant of how quickly I’m going to be able to come back. …
"There’s a really good chance I can avoid (the DL)."
One downside is that he likely won’t see much action this week against the Yankees, who began the day tied with Baltimore, 1.5 games behind the AL East leaders.
Asked if he might be ready in time, Bautista replied: "There’s definitely a chance. I’m not saying to start, but you never know, a pinch-hit at-bat here or there, that’s a possibility."
Anthony Gose and Kevin Pillar will share duties in right field until Bautista is ready to resume playing every day.