Bautista's return to Blue Jays remains unknown

Bautista's return to Blue Jays remains unknown

Bautista's return to Blue Jays remains unknown
SEATTLE -- Jose Bautista, who has been out since July 16 with a sprained wrist, is still experiencing some discomfort and a timetable for the right fielder's return to Toronto's lineup remains very much up in the air.

The original hope was that Bautista would be able to return at some point during the club's current three-city, 10-game road trip, but that's now unlikely.

"When I swing the bat, it's some discomfort and the fact that that's there, the recommendations from the hand specialist were not to push it too hard, too soon," Bautista said. "So that's what I'm doing, taking it one day at a time. There's no need to re-aggravate it, especially when I'm just hitting in the cage.

"I'm still ahead of the suggested game plan, according to the hand specialist. Their recommendations were initially to not even attempt to pick up a bat for two weeks, and I'm at 16 days and I'm swinging in a cage with some liberty and somewhat of a free feel to my swing."

Bautista began swinging a bat earlier this week but he's doing that without a high level of intensity. It has involved hitting off a tee and going through soft toss and he will need to increase the effort level before a scheduled return date can be set.

That's not expected to happen until the pain completely goes away. Bautista said he will not return until he is 100 percent because setbacks are common with wrist injuries when recoveries are rushed.

Bautista also suggested on Wednesday that he likely will require a rehab stint before being activated from the DL. The Blue Jays previously discussed the possibility of putting on a simulated game while Bautista remains with the big league club, but Bautista is worried about the effect it might have on his teammates.

"My initial gut feeling is that I would rather do it somewhere else where I don't disrupt the 25 guys that are here," Bautista said. "Some teams have done it in the past and flown guys in just to throw to somebody on the Major League team, but that's not what I would recommend."

The Blue Jays have stayed afloat during Bautista's absence, but they entered Wednesday with the offense in somewhat of a tailspin. On Saturday, the club had the top-ranked offense in the Major Leagues, but since then has managed to score just four runs in three games.

The absence of Bautista became even more troubling in the past week when he was joined on the 15-day DL by designated hitter Adam Lind and catcher J.P. Arencibia. Bautista has always been one to put things in perspective, though, and doesn't put much stock into the club's recent woes on offense.

"I'm frustrated that I'm not out there, and it's frustrating to see our team lose any type of games," Bautista said. "But it has been two games. It's not something to freak out about or go thinking that the offense is not clicking."

A lot was made this week about the Blue Jays' inability to pull off a big move prior to Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline. General manager Alex Anthopoulos did add a pair of relievers in Brad Lincoln and Steve Delabar, but he didn't acquire the middle-of-rotation starter he reportedly had been seeking.

If Bautista was upset, he didn't let on, calling the bullpen arms "a real positive" for a Blue Jays pitching staff that has been decimated by injuries for most of the past two months.

The one thing that did irk Toronto's slugger were all the reports from the American media that suggested shortstop Yunel Escobar has been disruptive in the Blue Jays clubhouse. Several reports indicated that Escobar's reputation had been hurting his value across the league, and Bautista felt that was completely unfounded.

"It's kind of upsetting because I know it's just somebody making up rumors to diminish his value or just to ruin his reputation," Bautista said. "In both situations, it's pretty low of anybody to try to do that. I don't see the reason why anybody would be targeting him personally and I've been his teammate for 2 1/2 years now, and I am the first one and attest that he is a great team player and he's a great addition to any ballclub.

"So we're happy to have him and I'm glad to know and see that those were just rumors, and I think he is one of the centerpieces of this ballclub and I would hate to see him leave if he ever did. I wouldn't want any other shortstop in the whole Major Leagues on my team that's not him."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.