Blue Jays expect Bautista to avoid disabled list

Josh Thole is back with the Blue Jays after Dioner Navarro was put on the DL and talks about the transition from the majors to triple-A ball.

TORONTO – Jose Bautista will miss a second consecutive game with a strained right shoulder, but the Toronto Blue Jays are becoming more optimistic that the injury won’t sideline him long-term.

“I don’t think we’re going to have to DL him,” manager John Gibbons said. “He feels much better today.”

Bautista aggravated his shoulder Tuesday when he threw to first base in an attempt to retire Delmon Young. He made the throw following an emotional at bat in which he homered three pitches after Orioles rookie Jason Garcia threw behind him.

“I probably shouldn’t have made that throw in the eighth inning to first base,” Bautista told reporters Wednesday, “but I did so I can’t take it back now.”

Throwing causes Bautista discomfort, so the Blue Jays are expecting to bring him back as a designated hitter when he does return, potentially during their upcoming series against the Tampa Bay Rays. That would push Edwin Encarnacion to first base, shift Justin Smoak to the bench and leave the Blue Jays with a starting outfield of Dalton Pompey, Kevin Pillar and Michael Saunders.

Ryan Goins played left field Wednesday and Danny Valencia will make his first career start at the position Thursday, so the Blue Jays are looking forward to the return of Saunders, who’s still expected to make his Blue Jays debut against the Rays.

Could Bautista pinch hit against the Orioles in Thursday’s series finale? Gibbons declined to tip his hand and give Baltimore manager Buck Showalter an edge.

NAVARRO SIDELINED: The Blue Jays were surprised by the severity of Dioner Navarro’s strained left hamstring. The switch-hitting catcher had initially hoped to avoid the disabled list, but an MRI revealed that he’d need more than a few days to heal.

“He’s got a nice little tear in there,” Gibbons said.

Navarro, who tweaked his hamstring running the bases Tuesday, was officially placed on the disabled list Thursday morning. This kind of injury is nothing new for the 31-year-old, who estimates that he’s strained each of his hamstrings four times. Now it’s a matter of being patient while they heal.

“Everybody knows I’m not fast,” Navarro said. “I just want to feel comfortable at the box and coming out of the box. That’s what I’m shooting for hopefully, like I said. It could be a week; it could be two weeks; it could be three weeks.”

To replace Navarro the Blue Jays recalled Josh Thole, and while he’s expected to catch R.A. Dickey Friday, his role won’t be as fixed as it’s been in years past. Because Russell Martin can also catch the knuckleball, the Blue Jays will be able to pinch-hit for Thole with Martin while keeping Dickey in the game.

Navarro will travel with the Blue Jays to Tampa and rehab in Florida, since his family lives an hour away from the team’s complex in Dunedin.

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