Bautista limited to DH duties, unable to throw
Blue Jays outfielder injured right shoulder on April 21, missed five games
BOSTON -- Jose Bautista made his return to the Blue Jays' lineup on Monday night following a five-game absence with a strained right shoulder.
Bautista was considered questionable going into the day, but he passed a series of tests and was eventually approved to start as the designated hitter against the Red Sox. The afternoon began with hitting in a cage, and he progressed to batting practice on the field.
That caused a delay in the Blue Jays announcing their starting lineup, but approximately one hour prior to first pitch, Bautista gave the thumbs-up to manager John Gibbons.
"It feels OK, obviously not anywhere close to 100 percent. But it doesn't hurt to swing, so I told them that I'm available," said Bautista, who finished Monday's 6-5 loss 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts and a walk.
Bautista was inserted into the lineup as the cleanup hitter, with Josh Donaldson remaining in the third spot of the order. That allowed the Blue Jays to keep Jose Reyes and Devon Travis in the top two spots, while moving the struggling Edwin Encarnacion down to No. 5.
It's still not immediately clear when Bautista will be able to start in right field. He has yet to resume throwing since his shoulder was injured while making a throw to first base during a game against the Orioles on April 21.
"I haven't even attempted to throw a baseball," Bautista said. "I don't even have a timeline on that. I would be guessing if I were to tell you that I know when I'm going to be able to play defense."
Bautista isn't exactly in an ideal situation, but the fact that he is at least healthy enough to DH is very positive news for a team that managed to score just six runs during a recent three-game series against the Rays. Even if Bautista isn't fully healthy, his presence should go a long way in helping the Blue Jays solidify the middle of the order.
"I don't feel pain swinging," Bautista said. "I feel soreness, stiffness, discomfort, but I don't feel pain. But I play through those three elements all the time, so it's not anything that's not normal."