Friday afternoon the Jays were set to face off against the Baltimore Orioles with the majority of the starting lineup seeing action. Then the worrisome news was released that right field slugger Jose Bautista would be scratched from the lineup with right hamstring tightness.
Jays nation gasped in despair envisioning further complications to one of the most important pieces for 2015, especially given that future games will be played on the nagging artificial turf. Well calm down Jays fans, this was likely nothing more than a precautionary measure given that Friday’s action was temporarily foiled due to the rainy conditions at game time. The Fan590’s Mike Wilner tweeted similar thoughts in the moments after he heard the news, dispelling any fear to the notion it would be an ongoing problem.
This is great news to hear. Obviously, learning that he has any hamstring tightness at all is not a welcoming sign for the Toronto Blue Jays going into the season but the main point to it all is that it’s only March 6th; there’s plenty of time for hamstring tightness to fade away into the dark night.
But that part is crucial. For the Jays to be even remotely close to a AL East contending team they need their unofficial captain manning the outfield for the majority of the season. Last season, Bautista played his second most games of his career with 155 games, batting an impressive .286/.403/.524 in that time. He also played at three different positions (right field, first base, center field) throughout the season but spent the majority of his time in right field as he will this season.
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It should be noted he also posted his second highest season in on-base-percentage (highest was in 2011 with a .447 OBP) and third highest WAR total at 6.3. While he was still able to crush the long ball when needed, Bautista’s 35 home runs represent an evolving man more inclined to hit the ball to all fields.
The Jays will take to the road tomorrow afternoon to face the Philadelphia Phillies where Bautista may or may not be entered back into the lineup. If he is, great. If he’s not, continue to take it with a grain of salt; being 34 years-old isn’t supposed to aid men in lacing up their cleats everyday to play a kids game.