Bautista joins elite company
By MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency
|Catcher J.P. Arencibia high-fives pitcher Jason Frasor after the Blue Jays beat the Cleveland Indians 7-1 on Sunday.
In his final game before the all-star break, Jose Bautista went 2-for-4 and according to the Elias Sports Bureau, became the first player in the American League since the expansion era (1961) to head into the all-star break leading in the four categories of home runs (31), walks (74), slugging (.702) and on-base percentage (.468). The only two players to accomplish the feat were both National League players — Albert Pujols in 2009 and Barry Bonds in 2003.
With his 31 home runs, Bautista also became the first player in the majors since Oakland’s Mark McGwire to lead the league in home runs at the all-star break in consecutive seasons. Last season at the break, Bautista had 24 home runs. McGwire led the league in 1997 (31 homers) and 1998 (37).
It is getting close to decision time on RHP Casey Janssen, who is rehabbing at double-A New Hampshire. Janssen was placed on the disabled list June 15 with a strained right forearm.
“Janssen had a very good inning last night (Saturday), a clean inning, two strikeouts and a fly ball out,” manager John Farrell reported. “He was up to 92 and felt good after the game. He’s set for an inning on Monday and then we’ll re-evaluate after that outing.”
The problem for the Jays and Janssen is that right now there’s no room at the inn, at least not at the major-league level. The Jays have gone back to a conventional seven-man bullpen after ballooning the pen up to eight for most of the opening half. If Janssen were to be recalled, that would mean somebody would have to go with the most likely candidate Luis Perez. But in doing so, the Jays would be down to just one lefty in their ’pen in Marc Rzepczynski.
The Jays other options are to go back to an eight-man bullpen and option Mike McCoy back to Las Vegas or simply assign Janssen to Las Vegas as he still has options.
Complicating matters further is that Janssen is having a good year with the Jays. In 28 appearances, he has a 2.93 ERA, has walked eight against 25 strikeouts and has held the opposition to a .238 average. A right-hander, he has also shown the ability to get left-handed hitters out as they are hitting just .200 (12-for-60) against him. He’s also the lone reliever not to have surrendered a home run.