Jose Bautista started at 3rd base for the first time since April of 2013 on Tuesday night, the latest replacement of the injured Josh Donaldson. While I applaud Bautista’s willingness to move around, the timing of the decision makes no sense to me.
I get it. I realize that these are desperate times for the Blue Jays, and that John Gibbons is trying to find any way he can to keep his best hitters in the lineup. We’ve watched Russell Martin suit up at 3rd base, and now Jose Bautista becomes the latest to get a start at the hot corner.
I know this isn’t a new position for him, and I have no doubt about his ability to fill in admirably over there. I also applaud that he was willing to make the move, especially knowing that Josh Donaldson could be the verge of returning, possibly as soon as this weekend.
That latter fact is why I’m questioning the latest decision from Gibbons, as Bautista’s stay at 3rd should be short lived, assuming Donaldson can stay healthy this time. If the decision had been made a month ago, it makes a lot more sense to me, but why now?
In the past Bautista has been willing to play where he’s been asked, but at one time stated that he just wanted to consistently stay in one spot. Obviously he’s willing to do whatever helps the struggling club at the moment, but it’s not as if he’s bound to be there long, and will eventually return to the outfield mix.
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Which is exhibit B for why I don’t under this latest move. On Tuesday night the Jays started Kevin Pillar, Ezequiel Carrera and Chris Coghlan in the outfield. Pillar and Carrera make sense, but why Coghlan, who is also capable of playing 3rd? Granted, he hasn’t shown very well there in limited opportunities this season, but he does have more recent experience at the hot corner than Jose.
If this were a case of wanting to start young Anthony Alford against a left-hander, that would make some sense to me too, but that isn’t the case either. Alford did pick up a pinch-hit double in the 7th inning on Tuesday, but wasn’t in the starting lineup.
Again, it’s not as if I’m doubting Bautista’s ability to fill in at the position, I just wonder if the timing is questionable at the moment, given the state of the Blue Jays’ disabled list this year. The players have been dropping like flies throughout the season, and Bautista has been one of the few stars to remain healthy throughout the first two months.
He’s struggled with issues with his throwing shoulder in the past, and making a throw across the diamond from third isn’t the easiest task in baseball. While it seems silly to worry about this sort of thing, I’d feel better about it if he were making a longer term move, and had time to consistently get used to the demand of the position again. After watching him rotating his arm after a throw in the bottom of the 6th inning on Tuesday, I admittedly held my breath a little, waiting to see if he’d come out in the following inning (he did).
Maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill here (ok, I’m not really making a mountain), but with JD’s return coming as soon as this weekend, I would have rather the Blue Jays left Bautista in right field and started either Coghlan, Barney for the handful of games remaining.