On both sides of ball, Bautista impresses

On both sides of ball, Bautista impresses

TORONTO -- The Orioles' Jake Fox smacked a pitch into right field on Monday night and decided to try to stretch a single into a double. In what has been a familiar scene this season, Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista retrieved the ball and threw the runner out at second base.

Bautista was later asked why runners keep testing his arm.

"I don't know," Bautista replied with a laugh.

Entering Tuesday, Bautista not only paced the Majors with 28 home runs, but led the American League with eight outfield assists. What has made the latter stat even more impressive is the fact that Bautista has split his time primarily between right field (593 2/3 innings) and third base (265 innings).

Prior to Tuesday's contest, Bautista averaged 0.12 assists per nine innings as a right fielder for the Blue Jays. In just 70 starts in the outfield last season, Bautista had a Major League-leading rate of 0.15 assists per nine innings as an outfielder. His 11 assists in 2009 led Toronto outfielders and ranked fourth overall in the AL.

"You sometimes hope," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said, "that there's a base hit that's going to be hit to him when you've got a winning run or tying run at second base, giving him a chance to throw them out.

"There's not a whole lot [better than Bautista]. There's some good right fielders out there, but he's done a great job -- outstanding."

Bautista added to his impressive resume on Tuesday, smacking another two homers -- pushing his league-leading total to 30 -- and adding another outfield assist, when he nailed Nick Markakis, who was trying to move to third from second on a Luke Scott sac fly.