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Bautista's next step will be to face live pitching

Bautista's next step will be to face live pitching

Bautista's next step will be to face live pitching
SEATTLE -- The Blue Jays hope Jose Bautista will be able to avoid a rehab assignment in order to speed up his return to the lineup.

Bautista, who is currently on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained left wrist, has begun taking swings but has yet to face live pitching.

That's expected to happen in a couple of days but Toronto would prefer to have Bautista remain with the club and take swings in a simulated-game environment rather than being sent to the Minor Leagues.

"We'll see how aggressive and intense we can create some of the live BP here first," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "Any available arm that can throw decently, move the cage up, whatever, we'll figure out those ways first. Jose, as honest as he is, he'll indicate to us what he feels most comfortable with.

"Two weeks is a long time without facing live pitching. It has been done before but we'll have to cross a few bridges here before we get to that point."

Bautista hasn't played since incurring the injury during a road trip in New York on July 16. He has taken dry swings, hit balls off a tee and played catch before games, but a return date can't be predicted until he faces actual pitching.

The Dominican native is eligible to come off the disabled list Wednesday but is not expected to be ready by then. Instead he will hit off a tee again on Tuesday before possibly advancing to batting practice the following day or two.

The biggest test will come when Bautista is challenged with pitches on the inner part of the plate, which would put more tension on the wrist area.

"My gut would say, the one real read we'll get ... is when we start throwing some balls in on him to where he has to pull his hands in," Farrell said.

"What that causes is a little bit of a different finish to his swing. That's where [there is] the turning over of the wrist. We have to make sure every way he has to manipulate the bat, there's no recurring of the symptoms."

Bautista is hitting .244 with 27 home runs and 65 RBIs in 90 games this season. He also has an .894 OPS while posting 41 extra-base hits and five stolen bases.

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