NEW YORK – Jose Bautista’s suspension appeal is set for Thursday, when the Toronto Blue Jays right-fielder will argue that the one-game ban he received as part of the discipline from the recent brawl with the Texas Rangers should be repealed.
The players union will make the case on behalf of Bautista, who intends to be present for the proceedings, with a decision likely to come from Major League Baseball the following Monday. Rougned Odor, who punched Bautista to set off the wild melee, reportedly had his appeal of an eight-game ban heard Tuesday.
At the time of his suspension, Bautista wouldn’t reveal the points he intended to argue, but did say, “I think I have good enough reasons to, I’m not just appealing it for the sake of appealing it.”
In announcing his suspension, MLB cited in its release “his actions during the incident” and “his post-game comments,” which relates to his aggressive slide through Odor on a double-play grounder, and his statement that “I could have injured him, I chose not to, I just tried to send a message that I didn’t appreciate getting hit.”
Bautista is likely to centre his arguments on past precedents and question being punished for saying he didn’t injure someone even when he was in position to. Another point that may come up is Odor tried to throw the ball at Bautista’s head as he slid in, as evidenced by the low arm-angle and trajectory of the throw.
ROTATION SWITCH: The Blue Jays are pushing Aaron Sanchez back in the rotation to give the right-hander an extra day of rest, moving J.A. Happ up to pitch in Thursday’s series finale against the Yankees.
Sanchez will now start Friday against the Boston Red Sox, and while trying to space out his innings was the main motivation behind the move, manager John Gibbons said there were other considerations, too.
“Boston is predominantly right-handed, these guys are lefty-switch, but the primary reason is to give him an extra day whenever we can,” said Gibbons. “It just kind of lined up this way. The other day we talked about what’s his limit a little bit.”
Gibbons said the Blue Jays may consider dropping in a spot starter during a long stretch of games at the end of June.
WAITING FOR TRAVIS: Devon Travis’s rehab assignment ends June 1 and while he’s made quick progress at triple-A Buffalo, the Blue Jays intend to be patient with the second baseman.
“Stamina, he should be fine, he needs (at-bats), to be fair to him,” said Gibbons. “He’s had a lot of at-bats in (extended spring training), he’s had a couple of games in triple-A – the big leagues are still different. You want to make sure he’s seeing enough breaking balls, things like that, facing some of the best pitchers down there. You jump the gun too soon, you don’t want him to get off to a struggle, either.”
Travis should provide a boost to the offence having posted an .859 OPS in 62 games with the Blue Jays last season, but expecting him to play the role of saviour is unfair, given his limited experience.
Still, Gibbons has been checking the club’s minor-league reports regularly knowing Travis can help.
“I think he’s got a chance to be one of the better hitters in the game because he has that simple stroke, he knows how to use the whole field, he hits breaking balls,” said Gibbons. “We’re keeping an eye on him. And we know he could fit that leadoff role when he gets here, too. … If he’s anything close to what he was last year, he should add a lot.”