Blue Jays without Bautista against Rays

Blue Jays without Bautista against Rays

ST. PETERSBURG -- The MRI on Jose Bautista's sore neck revealed no structural damage, but the slugger will miss at least the three-game series against the Rays.

Bautista has been experiencing discomfort in the area since last week in Texas. He woke up one morning with pain in the area that got worse with throwing and running.

When the condition didn't improve, Bautista opted to undergo a precautionary MRI.

"There is no structural issue," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said following his club's 3-2 loss to Tampa Bay on Tuesday night. "There is no bulging of a disk. There is no spine issue or anything like that. It is all musculature, so we have to let that subside.

"He will have to go through some baseball-related activity once he is symptom-free. I can't say there is a drastic improvement over the condition, but there is nothing structurally [wrong]."

Bautista was removed from Sunday's game against the Yankees in the seventh inning. He was originally planning to be back in the lineup against the Rays, but that changed when the injury became worse Tuesday morning.

"The spasms seemed to intensify even more," Farrell said. "We felt at the time when he came out of the game -- even the way Jose felt -- this was a chance to get over it. Get out of the game the last couple of innings ... but when he woke up this morning, it was even more intense."

The news comes as an obvious blow to the Blue Jays' lineup. Bautista was named the Budweiser American League Player of the Month on Tuesday after hitting .357 with nine home runs and 16 RBIs while scoring 25 runs and 30 walks.

Without Toronto's main slugger, Farrell had no choice but to shuffle the lineup. Rajai Davis remained in the leadoff spot, but shifted from center field to right. That opened a spot up the middle for veteran Corey Patterson, who hit second while Yunel Escobar took over Bautista's No. 3 spot in the order.

The Blue Jays already were playing without the services of infielders Aaron Hill and Jayson Nix, who are both on the 15-day disabled list with leg injuries. The detriments are easy to spot, but Farrell said there is at least one area the club can take some consolation in.

"I think as we've been faced with challenges from injuries. I think there has been a quicker cohesiveness and a quicker bonding among the group in here," said Farrell.

"Other people see themselves in more prominent roles ... I think intangibly, there can be a little bit of a positive growth from it and that's the cohesiveness and the underdog attitude."