TORONTO – Jose Bautista is targeting Saturday as the time to begin testing his strained left hamstring, with the progress the Toronto Blue Jays slugger makes that day determining how quickly things proceed.
“I’m going to try running first, see how that goes, and then we’ll take it from there,” he said Thursday, when he was out of the lineup for a fourth straight game. “I hit in the cage, that was OK. I’m not too worried about hitting right now.”
The all-star slugger was injured Sunday in Cincinnati while running to first base and “there’s been a lot of progress” since he said, adding “I’m obviously not ready to play, not today.”
A good morning of work Saturday may lead to pinch-hit opportunities for Bautista, but the Blue Jays will need to exercise caution before using him because they’d lose the time he’s already missed for a possible trip to the disabled list.
"Oh yeah, I wouldn't take that chance," he said. "If I don't feel like I'm good to go running-wise and stuff I can't pinch hit because then I lose a full week of back-dating the DL stuff."
Bautista is batting .305 with 15 homers, 49 RBIs and 59 walks in 77 games and sitting out on the sidelines with his team already short-handed hasn't been easy.
"I don't want to handcuff the team by not being available, but at the same time I don't think I need the extra week to come back," he explained. "And after two weeks you normally would have to get some at-bats somewhere. I just don't want to go through that process because I don't feel like I need it."
SEEING CLEAR: Donning a new pair of glasses infielder Steve Tolleson was ready and able if needed Thursday, after a specialist diagnosed his vision problems as an allergic reaction to contact lenses, and supplied him with drops and medication to ease the dryness in his eyes.
Tolleson, who had corrective eye surgery in 2009, used contact lenses earlier this week after experiencing some dryness in his eyes that led to some issues with his vision. Rather than helping, the contacts exacerbated matters and led to blurriness so bad he told manager John Gibbons he couldn't play Wednesday.
But receiving treatment Thursday morning – his fourth straight day seeing an eye doctor – and donning the glasses left him ready to go.
"(The doctor) told me it will take 24 hours before to get (the vision) all the way back to where it was before," said Tolleson. "He said don't worry about it, it will come back. That was good to hear because I told Gibby, I was scared about 5 or 6 o'clock yesterday because it was something I had never experienced before. It is definitely night and day better than it was yesterday. I took BP in these glasses today and ground balls and it wasn't an issue. Hopefully the next few days I'll be back to normal."
Tolleson's new glasses are reminiscent of those worn by Eric Sogard of the Oakland Athletics, although he was expecting another pair to be delivered before the game.
"We played together at triple-A in 2010 and in the big leagues," said Tolleson. "To this day I still stay in touch with him, one of my favourite teammates ever."
The glasses drew reactions all around the clubhouse.
"They make him look way too smart to be out there," quipped Blue Jays manager John Gibbons.
NO DERBY FOR EE: As captain Jose Bautista will select the American League team in the home run derby but his Blue Jays teammate Edwin Encarnacion won't be a part of that squad.
"He says he doesn't want to do it," relayed Bautista. "Especially if he doesn't make the (all-star) team, which to me, would be an extreme mistake on part of the manager (John Farrell) if he doesn't pick him. How could you not pick the guy who is leading the league in home runs and RBIs? I'm surprised still that the fans haven't come out and supported him better and he's not leading the votes for his position but you can't control that as much as you can control a manager picking a player."
Encarnacion is fourth in balloting among designated hitters behind Nelson Cruz, David Ortiz and Victor Martinez.
LOTS OF LEFTIES: Set to face three straight lefties starting Friday against the Chicago White Sox and with three more southpaws on the slate next week in Oakland, the Blue Jays will have little choice but to run with their left-handed hitters because of how the roster is currently set up.
Steve Tolleson will be able to spell one of Munenori Kawasaki at second or Juan Francisco at third, while Brad Glenn could sub in for Anthony Gose in right field while Jose Bautista recovers from his hamstring injury, but manager John Gibbons doesn't have right-handed options beyond them for Adam Lind or Colby Rasmus.
"I don't think we'll add anybody for this series. It's not ideal," said Gibbons. "The team is what it is right now, I don't expect any changes."
How will he decide who plays and who sits?
"We'll look at who we're facing, some of them have different styles, so some lefties might have a little more (success)," Gibbons explained. "You look at what lefties have done on them in the past. Against (Chris) Sale you don't want many lefties, but you've got no choice."