Jays’ Bautista defends stolen base attempt

Boston Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks (left) catches Toronto Blue Jays Jose Bautista stealing third. Frank Gunn/CP

Jose Bautista’s fourth-inning stolen base attempt drew the criticism of manager John Gibbons Friday, but the all-star right fielder defended his decision making Saturday morning. Bautista was caught stealing third with one out, two on and the Blue Jays trailing the Red Sox 5-0.

He considered it a chance to get two runners into scoring position with Jake Peavy delivering pitches slowly and a breaking ball likely on its way to the batter, Dioner Navarro.

“Obviously, the only thing I regret is that I didn’t make it,” Bautista said. “I also know that the catcher’s not the best catch-and-throw catcher in the league. Maybe my lead wasn’t that big. Maybe I didn’t get off to a great running start.

“But I thought it was a great opportunity for us to get two runners in scoring position with less than two outs. Sometimes you take chances and it doesn’t work out, and that’s part of the game.”

Gibbons criticized the decision after the game, telling reporters “I’ve got no idea. It’s not smart, winning baseball. I’m sure he won’t do it again.” The case against the stolen base attempt is essentially that with the Blue Jays trailing by five runs, outs are too valuable to justify risk taking on the bases.

Bautista stood by his decision making and said he did not talk to Gibbons about the stolen base attempt following the game. The 33-year-old said the opposing catcher made the attempt even more appealing.

“I knew in the back of my mind that Pierzynski is not the best catch-and-throw guy in the league. There’s no denying that. Even though he’s a great catcher, he’s not the best catch-and-throw guy. I had a pretty decent idea that I thought it was a breaking ball, and I guessed right.”

Pierzynski has thrown out four of the 13 runners who have attempted steals against him this year, and he threw out 24 of 73 last year for a slightly above-average rate of 33 percent. Bautista added that he believes his teammates can generate plenty of offence without him.

“Anything I did last night was not the product of that,” he said. “I just thought it was a good opportunity.”

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