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Jays put Jose Bautista on 15-day disabled list with knee sprain

Jose Bautista is headed back to the 15-day disabled list with a sprained left knee.

Outfielder Junior Lake from triple-A Buffalo called up to replace injured slugger

Blue Jays right-fielder Jose Bautista has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left knee sprain. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Jose Bautista is headed back to the 15-day disabled list with a sprained left knee.

The Blue Jays outfielder, who only just returned from a stint on the DL, injured the knee as he attempted a throw from right field in the third inning of Tuesday's 9-2 loss to Tampa. He was charged with an error on the play, allowing Rays catcher Luke Maile to advance to third.

"My cleat got caught in the turf, knee got a little jerked there and I landed on it too," Bautista told reporters on Wednesday. "I can't really tell if [it happened] when my cleat got caught or when I landed on it, but it's a sprained knee nonetheless and I'm on the DL."

Bautista said he hoped to return after only 15 days.

The 35-year-old slugger stayed in Tuesday's game after sustaining the injury, but he felt it worsening as the evening wore on. He was surprised by how bad it felt the next morning, quickly dialled up the team's medical staff and was soon undergoing an MRI, which revealed a grade-1 sprain.'

'A tough blow'

"It's more frustrating for him than it is anyone," Jays general manager Ross Atkins said. "Obviously when you lose one of the best players in the game that's a tough blow to a team."

Bautista returned from another stint on the DL just over two weeks ago. He missed more than a month with a left toe injury — from mid-June to late July — returning to play 15 games before suffering the knee sprain.

Toronto went 17-13 in his most recent absence, though the club's outfield depth will be especially tested this time around with everyday centre-fielder Kevin Pillar landing on the 15-day DL himself (left thumb) earlier this week.

Bautista didn't believe there was "a lot of real damage, just kind of hyper-extension type of stuff" with this most recent issue. Injuries have the right-fielder heading toward one of his least productive seasons as a Jay, one that's likely to see a streak of six straight 25-home run seasons snapped.

Bautista has 15 home runs and 45 runs batted in in 80 games, batting .222 with a .793 OPS in the final year of his contract with the Blue Jays.

"It's extremely frustrating, especially after an off-season that a lot of hard work went into, just getting my body ready and hopefully avoiding these type of situations and then having it happen on two freak accidents, it's pretty disappointing," Bautista said, referring also to the toe injury, which occurred in a collision with the outfield wall in Philadelphia.

Atkins said Darrell Ceciliani, recalled after Pillar's injury, will likely receive most of the playing time in Bautista's absence, primarily alongside the recently acquired Melvin Upton Jr. and all-star Michael Saunders. Ceciliani has only five hits in 74 career at-bats while Upton, acquired for just this reason Atkins said, has yet to land an extra-base hit with the Jays.

Junior Lake was also recalled from Buffalo on Wednesday and it's thought Ezequiel Carrera will soon return from a DL stint (left achilles strain). Otherwise, Atkins said, the Jays would consider options outside the organization, especially if Bautista was out longer than the 15-day timeline.

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