TORONTO – Caution was the order of the day with Jose Bautista, as the Toronto Blue Jays opted to give the star slugger time to rest his twisted right ankle by sitting him out Friday.
There’s hope for enough overnight improvement to let him return to the lineup Saturday, although that would likely be as DH, according to manager John Gibbons.
But the Blue Jays certainly won’t be taking any chances with him.
“It’s early in the season and I’d rather do that, take one or two games off, instead of trying to play on it and have to take a full week or 10 days off. I think it’s the right move,” Bautista said. “There’s no pressing need for me to be playing right now, but if this was at the end of the season and the games were to put us in the playoffs, or we were in the playoffs, I would definitely be playing.”
Bautista stepped awkwardly on first base beating out a double-play relay in the eighth inning of Thursday’s 10-8 win over Cleveland. He finished out the half-inning before deciding he wasn’t well enough to play defence.
“Much better right now than when I woke up and got here,” Bautista said of how his ankle feels. “I still believe that the proper precaution was taken with taking (Friday) off and see how it feels (Saturday), possibly play (Saturday).”
RUNNING RED: Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes says he didn’t ignore third base coach Luis Rivera’s stop sign in the eighth inning of Thursday’s 10-8 win, he simply missed it.
“I didn’t see the stop sign, I didn’t see Luis, he was so close to the base I didn’t have time to see him,” Reyes explained. “I made the decision, he wasn’t mad. Maybe if they threw me out, it’s a different ballgame.”
Reyes scored from second on the potential double-play ball hit by Bautista, never stopping on his way to third and turning for home while the Indians attempted the twin-kill. He was running on the pitch but turned back because he thought a pickoff was coming, and that initial false start is why Rivera gave him the red.
“I got to third base a little bit late,” said Reyes, who when told he might have scored easier had he never stopped, replied: “Maybe not, if the second baseman gets the ball and sees me and throws home. It worked out better for me.”
SHORT BENCH: Bautista’s absence combined with an eight-man bullpen meant the Blue Jays had only two players on their bench for Friday’s contest – first baseman Adam Lind and backup catcher Henry Blanco.
While far from ideal, at the moment manager John Gibbons feels it’s a necessary evil.
“It’s tough but our bullpen is a little beat up, too,” he said. “The extra-inning game, we’ve been using those guys a lot lately. That’s the only problem there. We’ll have to see how the night goes, if we have to adjust, we have to adjust.”