Jose Bautista eases back into right field for Blue Jays
Nationals hit 5 balls in his direction
There was no rifle-armed throw from right field to first base.
There was scurrying to the right-field corner to pick up a ball and unleash a hard throw to second or scaling the wall a la Blue Jays teammate Kevin Pillar to rob anyone of a home run.
Jose Bautista returned to his primary position Tuesday afternoon in Washington and finished the game healthy and didn't hurt his team in the field, which can't be said for the men who replaced him for some of the previous 30 games while he was designated hitter with a bum right shoulder.
The Nationals went easy on Bautista in a 2-0 victory to open a split-doubleheader, hitting just five balls in his direction.
- Bautista went to work in the first inning, closing his glove on a fly ball off the bat of Ryan Zimmerman at the wall in right field.
- In the third, ex-Blue Jay Yunel Escobar dropped a single in front of Bautista, who scooped up the ball and made an easy throw to second baseman Ryan Goins in the outfield.
- Bautista didn't need to test his arm in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings when he caught two-out fly balls off the bats of catcher Wilson Ramos, starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann and Zimmerman.
In the fourth inning of the nightcap, Bautista lolly-popped a throw to second baseman Munenori Kawasaki after Bryce Harper drilled a ball off the top of the right-field wall.
Bautista last played in right on April 21 against the visiting Baltimore Orioles when he strained his shoulder attempting to throw out Delmon Young at first base after a verbal exchange with numerous Baltimore players.
The Jays really, really, really, really, really need Jose Bautista back playing right field every day.—@jonahkeri
He received a cortisone shot on May 24 and proclaimed himself ready to return to the field after several days of throwing, starting at 40 feet and progressing to 90 feet.
"I can't say it's 100 per cent, but I'm good to be playing defence and if there are plays that need to be made I expect to be able to make them," Bautista told reporters prior to Monday's game.
During Bautista's absence, Toronto's outfield defence was a liability, especially Chris Colabello, whom manager John Gibbons needed in the lineup with his hot bat after he managed hits in 20 of his first 25 games since being summoned from triple-A. Veteran reserve player Danny Valencia and rookie Ezequiel Carrera also took turns filling in for Bautista.
Chris Colabello has been awful in the OF but still provides positive value overall. 0.8 WAR after 99 plate appearances. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BlueJays?src=hash">#BlueJays</a>—@Guertez
Among the outfield blunders in Bautista's absence:
May 31 at Minnesota: Chris Colabello, normally a first baseman, misplayed a ball in left field that led to a first-inning run. In the seventh, he didn't get a glove on Torii Hunter's drive to deep left-centre, taking a poor route to try to run it down and twisted and turned at the wall while two runs scored on the way to a 6-5 Twins win.
May 23 at Toronto: In the third inning, Colabello broke in on a slicing fly ball off the bat of Seattle Mariners No. 9 hitter Chris Taylor that sailed over his head for a double. Two batters later, Danny Valencia, a third baseman by trade, tracked down a Willie Bloomquist hit to left field but pulled up at the warning track and the ball slammed off the wall for a double that scored two runs.
May 22 at Toronto: Colabello misjudged a Logan Morrison hit to right-centre that bounced passed the sliding outfielder and turned into a two-run triple. Morrison later scored in a 4-3 Seattle victory.