August 28, 2012
Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista to have surgery ... and that's good newsIn a season this bad, making sure your star is healthy next year is a plus
By KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency
NEW YORK - There is a diminishing scale of relevance when it comes to the steady stream of bad news that comes out of the Toronto Blue Jays clubhouse these days.
In normal times, word that the face of the franchise, not to mention its best player, is to undergo season-ending surgery would be a devastating blow. Coming at the tail-end of a season already lost under an avalanche of bad medical news, the fact that Jose Bautista’s choice to bite the bullet and get the tendon in his left arm fixed now, so that he may be 100% healthy before spring training, is, in a strange way, a positive thing.
“In this case that’s a good way to look at it,” Jays manager John Farrell said Tuesday. “It’s a definitive plan going forward. Everything points to this being a three- to four-month recovery and rehab to normal strength, likely a six-month total return, so that puts him in line to be back in games for spring training.”
In the meantime, the Jays will play out the string, get a read on some of their new pitchers and young players and hope veterans like Ricky Romero can snap out of their slumps.
Using that set of criteria as a barometer, Tuesday’s 2-1 New York Yankees victory was a stunning success for the Jays, kind of like celebrating an operation where the patient died. Moises Sierra had a pair of hits, fellow rookie Adeiny Hechavarria hit his first big-league home run and Romero tossed his best game in nearly a month.
The unsavory part is that, other than Hechavarria and Sierra, the only other Jays hit came off the bat of Yunel Escobar. Toronto’s only other real scoring chance was wiped out by some boneheaded baserunning by Monday’s hero, Colby Rasmus, who was doubled off third base on a line drive to the second baseman, ending the top of the sixth inning.
Still, Romero washed away the bad taste that was left by his last outing, when he was tagged for five runs on seven hits and eight walks over five innings in Detroit. He went seven against the Yankees, giving up two runs on five hits and two walks.
“Hopefully I can build some consistency off of this one,” said Romero. “The best I can do now is finish the season strong. Everyone has been helping me out through this. The only thing is that losing sucks.”
After visiting with Dr. Thomas Graham in Cleveland on Monday, Bautista decided to have surgery to repair the damaged sheath around a tendon in his left wrist. He originally injured the tissue that holds the tendon in place during a game at Yankee Stadium in July. After a period of rest and rehab, he attempted to come back in Baltimore on the weekend but was not comfortable with instability around the tendon.
“It gotten to the point where the risk of injuring the tendon was not worth it,” said Bautista. “That’s why we’re opting to do it now, that way I have plenty of time to be ready for spring training and the season.”
Bautista is expecting to have the surgery next week in Cleveland.
Outfielder Sam Fuld of the Tampa Bay Rays had the same condition and Bautista has conferred with him. Fuld used an entire offseason two years ago to try to rehab the injury, but even after that extended period he had to have surgery anyway.
“I’m going to bypass that and go straight for the surgery because there’s no need to chance it and have the same thing that happened to him,” said Bautista. “(Fuld) went the whole off-season resting and rehabbing it, and the first game of the year he hurt it again.”
Bautista said he expects to be able to start rehabbing by the middle of October and to be fully healed by the end of this calendar year
“I don’t even start swinging the bat until January in any off-season, so that will put me well ahead of schedule anyways,” he said.
In assessing his season, Bautista’s only regret was his inability to remain healthy.
“What I really wanted to do at the beginning of the year was remain healthy, and I said that many times and unfortunately I wasn’t able to,” he said. “At least I can put my head on my pillow and know it wasn’t because of a lack of work or a lack of preparation. It’s just an accident that happens on a baseball play. You can’t control those things.”
As for the future of the team, Bautista is confident that, with some pitching help, the Jays will be able to compete next year in a much better way than they did this year.
“Offensively, I don’t really think we need much else than what we have,” he said. “Just like has been addressed before, since a lot of injuries have happened to the pitching staff, (that) is the best way to improve our club. Obviously that’s Alex’s job and he’ll look for ways to make this club better. I trust in him to do that as best as he can. Going forward next year, which is light years away right now it feels like, I’m really excited.”