Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays News: Jose Bautista on track for early return to the lineup

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Jun 8, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (19) sits in dugout during the third inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 8, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (19) sits in dugout during the third inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Toronto Blue Jays could be getting star right-fielder Jose Bautista back as early as Monday following a rehab stint

The Toronto Blue Jays got some more good news last night as it was reported that right-fielder Jose Bautista is on track to return from his turf toe injury ahead of schedule.

Bautista will play briefly with the Dunedin Blue Jays before joining the triple-A Buffalo Bisons this weekend.

The original diagnosis of Bautista’s turf toe seemed to be targeting the end of July as a loose return date. This injury is known to linger and cause unclear timetables as athletes work to rebuild their running and change-of-direction with the sprained joint.

“We’ll see how he’s going each day. We really don’t want to set a date, ‘You’re coming back on this day,’” trainer George Poulis told Davidi. “If a guy feels like he needs an extra day then we’ll just give it to him. But he’s doing great, we’re very optimistic that he’s very close.”

Bautista’s positional role will be the first topic of discussion upon his return, as the Blue Jays will essentially be choosing between keeping Ezequiel Carrera or Justin Smoak in the lineup. Even if Bautista returns to the field it is likely that he sees some scattered DH action to keep his toe healthy, but with Carrera playing stronger defence than he has in the past, the decision will be closer than originally expected.

After starting off the season hot at the plate, Carrera has come back down to earth with a .222 batting average since the beginning of June.

Prior to Bautista’s injury he had appeared in 65 games, hitting just .230 but providing his traditionally strong on-base percentage of .360. He had recorded 12 home runs and 41 RBI before the injury.

Next: It's officially decision time for Blue Jays, Franklin Morales

Given the presence of Devon Travis, who is coming off a nice night in Arizona out of the leadoff spot, manager John Gibbons should now be able to use Bautista back in his traditional number three role. With protection from Edwin Encarnacion and Bautista’s ability to reach base ahead of the red-hot Dominican slugger, his return from injury will further improve an offence that has re-emerged as one of the league’s best.

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