Veteran slugger to rejoin team after participating in Classic
By Jeff Odom
Special to MLB.com |
BRADENTON, Fla. -- While Jose Bautista being a last-minute scratch from Team Dominican Republic's lineup before Saturday's World Baseball Classic game due to back stiffness may have initially been a cause for alarm, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said he is not concerned.
Gibbons described Bautista's issue on Sunday as "very, very minor," and expects the six-time All-Star to rejoin the Blue Jays within the next couple of days. Bautista was available to come off the bench, but never saw the field in a 6-3 defeat to the United States at San Diego's Petco Park that eliminated the defending Classic champions from the tournament.
"His No. 1 obligation is this team," Gibbons said before Toronto's game against the Pirates at LECOM Park.
"I think he was smart not playing that one, and we'll see him back soon."
Before departing for the Classic earlier this month, the 36-year-old Bautista had been enjoying a torrid start to Grapefruit League play. In 16 plate appearances, the slugger batted .563 with two home runs and six RBIs. Bautista also stole a base, something he only did twice in 116 games last season.
"As soon as he can get going again, he'll get a few days off. It's been a long grind out there," Gibbons said. "We'll get him moving in the last week and I'll tell you, I am looking forward to really trying to get the whole team together on the field."
• Count Gibbons among those rooting for Toronto right-hander Marcus Stroman and Team USA to win the Classic for the first time in four tries. Though Gibbons is not sure whether or not Stroman is in U.S. manager Jim Leyland's plans to start again, he noted how well the young pitcher has always risen to the occasion in big games.
Stroman is 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA in two Classic starts.
"It would be something," Gibbons said. "You know what, I've always said [he is the] perfect guy, perfect place. When we have big games to pitch, he's always been a good option for us, and he's always answered the bell.
"I'll say it again, he might be the perfect guy."
• Gibbons indicated third baseman Josh Donaldson, limited since the opening week of Spring Training due to a right calf strain, is "just a couple days away" from playing again.
Also, second baseman Devon Travis, whose status for Opening Day remains in question because of soreness from a bone bruise in his right knee, will begin playing in the field in Minor League games first before getting some reps on the big league side, Gibbons said.
Jeff Odom is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Blue Jays on Sunday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.