Blue Jays stars Donaldson, Bautista exit Game 1 of ALDS vs. Rangers

Josh Donaldson left the game early after taking a knee to the head while breaking up a double play with a hard slide into second.

TORONTO — Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson will be monitored overnight and re-evaluated Friday morning after he was removed from Thursday’s ALDS opener in the fifth inning with a head injury.

Donaldson, who reached base on a walk, was attempting to break up a double play on a Jose Bautista ground ball in the fourth inning when he caught the right knee of Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor. Donaldson remained on the turf momentarily, holding his head, before getting to his feet and jogging back to the Blue Jays dugout.

Donaldson played the top of the fifth inning defensively and made a clean catch and throw to first base for the final out of the frame. But he was replaced in the bottom of the inning as a precaution when he reported feeling light-headed, and went into the Blue Jays clubhouse for concussion testing. According to the team, Donaldson cleared all tests.

“We’ll see how he is tomorrow,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “It think he got a little light-headed—something wasn’t right. But he did pass the test, so that’s a good sign.”

All MLB teams conduct baseline neuropsychological testing during spring training, which is used in conjunction with a sideline concussion assessment to help diagnose any in-game head injuries. If Donaldson is in fact diagnosed with a concussion, the Blue Jays will have to submit a “return to play” form to MLB’s medical director before the 29-year-old is cleared to return to action.

Donaldson didn’t speak to the media after the game, but was in the Blue Jays clubhouse about an hour after the final pitch, sitting at his locker and using his phone.

“That kind of thing happens from time-to-time. He was going in hard to break up the double play, Odor was trying to jump over him to make a throw,” Bautista said. “It happens. It’s a little scary, but he’s fine.”

Bautista also left Thursday’s game due to cramping in his right hamstring. He felt the discomfort during a swing that resulted in a pop out to end the eighth inning. Bautista returned to the Blue Jays dugout and tried to stretch out the injury, but when his hamstring didn’t loosen up the Blue Jays made the decision to lift him from the game.

“It was the ninth inning—for me to get back to the plate would’ve taken a big enough rally that we would’ve gotten enough runs to get the win anyway,” Bautista said. “So it made no sense for me to go out to right field and play defence and aggravate it.”

Bautista began receiving treatment and rehab on his leg as soon as he was pulled from the game and said it was feeling much better about an hour after the final out. He expects to be in the Blue Jays lineup for Friday’s game.

Donaldson’s status for Game Two is less certain, and will depend on how the third baseman feels overnight and in the morning.

“I talked to him as soon as I came out [of the game] and he said he felt a lot better,” Blue Jays starter David Price said. “These next couple hours I’m sure will tell him a lot. If he’s in that lineup tomorrow, that’s great. If not, we still have a couple more guys that can drive the ball all over the yard. We’ll be fine.”

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