TORONTO – The way the Toronto Blue Jays have been scoring runs of late, it’d be easy to overlook the fact that their lineup has been missing a major contributor for the better part of a month.
Jose Bautista has been sidelined since June 16 with turf toe, but the Blue Jays now have some good news on that front. Bautista’s toe has improved to the point that he’s started hitting off a tee. As manager John Gibbons said, “that’s progress.”
The Blue Jays don’t have a firm timeline for the right fielder’s return, but they’re hopeful he could be in their lineup again by the end of July.
In the meantime, Ezequiel Carrera has been getting most of the playing time in right field. While he doesn’t have anything resembling Bautista’s power, he has a .377 on-base percentage and has played better defence than he did last year.
Thanks to the likes of Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, Darwin Barney and Kevin Pillar, the Blue Jays are turning would-be hits into outs on a regular basis. Toronto’s defenders are converting 72 per cent of batted balls into outs, which ranks fourth best in baseball behind the Cubs, Indians and Dodgers.
“We’ve got a really good defensive team. I don’t think in any sport you win anything if you don’t play good defence,” Gibbons said. “That’s been a big part of why our pitching’s been so good, too.”
Blue Jays starters led baseball with 58 quality starts entering play Saturday.
STROMAN STARTS THINGS OFF
Marcus Stroman will open the second half for the Blue Jays when they return from the all-star break in Oakland Friday. The right-hander posted a disappointing 4.89 ERA in the first half of the season, though both of his last two starts have been strong.
Beyond Stroman the Blue Jays haven’t finalized the order of their rotation. Marco Estrada’s eligible to return for the Blue Jays’ series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, but the Blue Jays could give him an extra few days so that he doesn’t have to risk aggravating his sore back by batting.
- The Blue Jays expected Ryan Goins to throw Saturday after taking ground balls Thursday and Friday. The infielder landed on the disabled list with forearm tightness after pitching against the Cleveland Indians.
- After a slow start at the plate, the Blue Jays rank second in the American League in runs scored (439), on-base percentage (.334) and home runs (129)