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Blue Jays hope Bautista will only miss few games

Blue Jays hope Bautista will only miss few games

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays appear to have dodged a bullet.

MRI results on four-time All-Star Jose Bautista's left hamstring revealed a Grade 1 strain, the mildest form, and the club is hopeful the right fielder can return to the lineup in some capacity during Toronto's pivotal three-game set at Rogers Centre against the division-rival Yankees.

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Bautista, who missed Monday's series opener, is officially listed as day to day and believes he won't require a stint on the disabled list.

"There is a really good chance I can avoid it, yes," said Bautista, who entered play Monday with 15 homers and a team-leading .433 on-base percentage. "Definitely some of the best news I could have gotten. I could have gotten the news of a torn hamstring or a higher grade strain."

The 33-year-old, who had felt tightness in the back of his leg for a few days, injured himself running out a bunt attempt during the Blue Jays' 4-3 loss to the Reds on Sunday. Bautista said he felt a sharp pain when he extended his leg to touch first base, and he was removed from the contest shortly after.

While he's hopeful to be back at some point this week, Bautista is not putting any definitive timeline on his return.

"If I feel like I am going to make it worse by starting to play again, then I will be doing the team and myself a disservice," he said. "I need to know that I am at least not going to make it worse. If my recovery becomes slower or I still have to deal with some pain playing, I can deal with that. But if there is an increased chance of me making it worse by playing, I can't do that."

The encouraging news regarding Bautista came just hours after the club placed third baseman Brett Lawrie on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured right index finger. Losing two important regulars for an extended time would have been a major blow to the slumping Blue Jays, who entered Monday having lost 11 of their last 16 games and having seen their American League East lead over New York and Baltimore shrink to 1 1/2 games.

"We lucked out there," manager John Gibbons said of Bautista's diagnosis. "He's our guy in the middle [of the order] that makes things happen offensively, and defensively."

While Bautista is out, Anthony Gose and Kevin Pillar -- both recalled from Triple-A Buffalo on Monday -- will platoon in right field. The Blue Jays were set to face three right-handed starters in a row against the Yankees, which means the left-handed-hitting Gose is likely to see the bulk of the playing time. Once Bautista returns, one of the two will likely head back to Buffalo, while the other serves as the club's fourth outfielder.

"When [Bautista] comes back, I don't necessarily think we need [both]," Gibbons said.

Chris Toman is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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