Bautista, Romero set stars aside

Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays is introduced before Major League Baseball's all-star game in...

Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays is introduced before Major League Baseball's all-star game in Phoenix on Tuesday (JIM YOUNG/Reuters)

Bob Elliott, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:42 PM ET

And out of the desert the two Blue Jays flew.

Right fielder Jose Bautista headed to Los Angeles where he is up for two awards at the annual ESPY awards.

And then he will head to Toronto for the opener of a four-game series against the New York Yankees on Thursday.

Back at the Rogers Centre, Bautista will be magically transformed again into a third baseman rather than a wall-crashing right fielder.

Lefty Ricky Romero headed to Toronto, but will not start Thursday’s opener. Jays manager John Farrell, who was in Phoenix as one of the coaches for the American League all-star team, said although Romero did not pitch Tuesday, his start will be pushed back to Saturday afternoon.

Bautista is nominated for two ESPYs: Breakthrough Athlete of the Year and Best MLB Player.

He’s a finalist in the Breakthrough category along with Arian Foster of the Houston Texans, Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers, tennis player Li Na and Cam Newton of the Auburn Tigers.

And he’s nominated for the top MLB honours with Philadelphia Phillies’ Roy Halladay, Texas Rangers’ Josh Hamilton, Seattle Mariners’ Felix Hernandez and Etobicoke’s Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds.

“Hopefully we can remain healthy and make up some ground in the second half,” Bautista said Tuesday as he left Chase Field after the 82nd all-star game.

Health — his health — was a matter of concern.

Bautista went sliding into the wall in foul territory to catch a Brian McCann drive.

Bautista had his leg in the air as he slid into the wall.

“I was able to brace myself, I didn’t think I took a risk,” Bautista said.

At first glance it appeared Bautista could have injured his ankle or jammed his leg into his hip, for as we know the hip joint is connected to the leg bone.

“We couldn’t see from the dugout, but the replay showed he was able to get his foot in the air and go in at a straight angle,” Farrell said. “He had his footing underneath him. I don’t think you can ask anyone to play at a controlled pace.”

Besides crashing into the fence catching McCann’s fly ball, Bautista crashed into McCann at the plate.

It was the best slide of the night ... next to reliever Heath Bell sliding in front of the mound after manager Bruce Bochy signalled for him to come in from the bullpen.

Farrell decided with the flight back from the Pacific time zone, Romero would be bumped back to Saturday and a change in the starting rotation will be made as the Jays have Monday off.

Lefty Jo-Jo Reyes starts Thursday, Carlos Villeneuva on Friday, then Romero and Brandon Morrow against the Yanks on Sunday.

Romero will be working on nine days rest — a first for him since he broke into the majors in 2009 — as his previous start before the break was July 6 when he allowed six runs on nine hits and three walks in a 6-4 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

“The way John explained it to me with all the travelling, I’ll come home, thrown a short bullpen and be ready to start Saturday,” Romero said after his first all-star selection.

“This is something I’d like to come back to year after year, I mean my No. 1 priority remains the Jays,” said Romero. “I’m not saying Jose and I will be here every year.”

Romero’s all-star highlight was lining up on the first-base line and having his name announced, Bautista’s most memorable part of his second all-star game was participating in the State Farm home run derby, hitting four homers, “having plenty of fun and raising some money for charity.” A total of $603,000 was handed out by State Farm.

The AL was without some of its best arms as Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez, David Price and CC Sabathia had all started Sunday and therefore were ineligible. Plus Jon Lester, on the disabled list (back muscle strain) and closer Mariano Rivera, nursing a triceps muscle injury, were among pitchers who were unavailable.

“Rest is an important thing. If that keeps guys like Verlander and others out, well, we’re all playing by the same rules,” Farrell said.

And now the National League will has home-field advantage in the World Series.


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