SEATTLE - Jose Bautista was eligible to come off the disabled list Wednesday.
The Blue Jays slugger, however, is not returning to the lineup any time soon. With his left wrist bandaged tight, Bautista is still taking baby steps in the recovery process.
Bautista had a day off from rehab on Tuesday but Wednesday he was going to get back into the swing of things with more dry swings, soft toss and hitting off a tee.
Manager John Farrell said that the right fielder may also take “some b.p. in the cage” but that was news to Bautista. How far away does he think he is?
“A long ways,” Bautista said. “It feels definitely much better but obviously with that type of injury in that area of a baseball player’s body and needing to handle a bat and swing it at high speeds with some weight on the bat, it’s something that I don’t feel comfortable with going right now and saying I’m able to play.
“I’m not going to start playing before I’m capable of doing what I can do and help the team win games. I wouldn’t put myself in a position to either hurt myself worse or not help the team win games.”
How does the wrist feel?
“Now, nothing,” he replied as he sat at his locker. “But when I swing the bat there’s some discomfort and the fact that it’s there, the instructions from the hand specialist were not to push it too hard too soon. So that’s what I’m doing, taking it one day at a time. There’s no need to re-aggravate it, especially when I’m just hitting in the cage.
“I’m still ahead of the suggested game plan, according to the hand specialist. Their recommendation initially was not to pick up a bat for two weeks. I’m at 16 days and I’m swinging in the cage with some liberty and somewhat of a free feel to my swing. It’s just that at the speed at what I’m doing is not full speed. But I’m still ahead of schedule and feeling good.”
Without the likes of Bautista, Adam Lind and J.P. Arencibia, the Jays lineup has lost a lot of its power and menace. While the Jays have gone 6-7 without Bautista in the lineup, they have produced just four runs in the past three games — all losses.
Lately the opposition is tying up Colby Rasmus (0-for-last-10) inside and has been pitching around Edwin Encarnacion. The bottom of the lineup sports a number of holes with David Cooper, Jeff Mathis and Anthony Gose filling in.
“We’ve got some inexperience mixed into our lineup which has been attacked effectively by opposing pitching,” Farrell said. “It’s clear that Edwin hasn’t been given pitches to hit as much as we’ve seen. There’s a few things in play here.”
The big one is not having Bautista.
SIX MAN ROTATION?
With lefty J.A. Happ stuck in the bullpen and champing at the bit to join the rotation, Farrell has been noodling some ideas of how to get him back into his familiar role as a starter. After acquiring Happ from Houston as a starter, the Jays said they’d stick with their current five until a change was needed.
“One potential idea is after we get through the off day on Monday would we consider a six-man rotation to be sure that we don’t go too long from Jay’s most recent start?” Farrell said. “We’ve been able to get him multiple innings in his relief outings.
“There’s a couple of ways we can go with this, make a one-for-one switch or go to a six-man rotation.”
Farrell quickly added that he was talking off the top of his head, had discussed it with pitching coach Bruce Walton, but had yet to run it by GM Alex Anthopoulos.
“I think the one thing that we have to strongly consider is how far away do we get from Jay’s last start and realistically how far can he go in his first start in the rotation? You combine that with the return of Brandon (Morrow) at some point (in August) and he’s going to have limits on him,” Farrell said. “It’s tough to have two guys in the rotation when they have 80-pitch limits.
“Then you’re back into chasing your tail as we’ve done before where you’re carrying that extra pitcher.”
Any drawbacks to the notion?
“At this point in time of the year I don’t know that there are too many drawbacks,” Farrell said. “When you’re looking at young guys, in Henderson’s (Alvarez) case, you want to control the number of innings thrown, give a breather to some guys, get Jay into the rotation. There’s more positives than drawbacks for sure.”
Sounds like a done deal.