Bautista returns to Blue Jays' lineup, homers
TORONTO -- Jose Bautista made his return to the Blue Jays' lineup on Friday night following a four-game absence with back spasms and clubbed his fourth home run of the season, a two-run shot off Andy Pettitte in the sixth inning of a 9-4 loss to the Yankees.
Bautista began experiencing some discomfort during Toronto's series finale against Kansas City on Sunday. He was originally listed as day to day, but the discomfort and tightness failed to subside during the Blue Jays' four-game set against the White Sox.
The positive news for Toronto is that Bautista received clearance to get back into the lineup on Friday night, and he's expected to be available for the entire series versus New York barring any setbacks.
"He's a huge part of this team," manager John Gibbons said. "He's our top dog in the middle of the lineup. It's a totally different look when he's not in there. If we're going to do anything, we need everybody, if we're going to do anything this year we need him to be at his best. We're sure glad to have him back."
Bautista got the start at designated hitter on Friday night and likely will remain in that role through the weekend. He's expected to make a return to the field on Monday in Baltimore, but until then, the club would like to keep him off the turf at Rogers Centre.
That should keep starting DH Adam Lind out of the lineup for at least the next three games. It's a bit of a blow to the club, considering Lind had begun to swing the bat well following a slow start to the year.
Lind entered play on Friday riding a three-game hitting streak, while going 5-for-11 with a double in his previous three games.
"That's the tough part," Gibbons said. "He has to suffer for it, and he was starting to swing the bat good. But there's a lot of games, a lot of at-bats for Lindy left. He'll still be waiting on the bench ready to come in and pinch-hit sometime, maybe in the next three days."