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MacArthur: Bautista homers in return to starting lineup

Scott MacArthur
7/1/2014 2:01:51 PM
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TORONTO – Jose Bautista returned to the Blue Jays' starting lineup, as the designated hitter, on Tuesday afternoon.

He made his presence felt at first opportunity, hitting a home run to left-centre field in the first inning. The homer was Bautista's first since June 6, a span of 17 games.

The slugger wasn't yet ready to resume playing defence.

"I think the decision was made by Gibby to give me one or two days to kind of ease back into it," said Bautista. "Depending on how I feel tomorrow, possibly playing right field. If not, definitely in Oakland sometime."

Bautista's bat is a welcome sight. However, because he couldn't play right field, manager John Gibbons was forced to send Adam Lind to the bench. The Blue Jays usually employ a first base-designated hitter combination of Lind and Edwin Encarnacion when an opponent starts a right-handed pitcher. Encarnacion started at first base on Tuesday.

Baseball's leader with 59 walks and a .432 on-base percentage, Bautista did not take issue with Gibbons' decision to keep him out of right field for at least one more day.

"I want to play today and I'm consciously not going to fight my manager because what he's doing I think is reasonable," said Bautista. "Same thing tomorrow. But if I feel well then there's no restrictions. It's not if I want to play and I'm going to make it worse; I think I'm old enough and disciplined enough to not risk making it worse by playing defence too soon."

The Blue Jays went 3-4 in Bautista's absence from the starting lineup, including three-straight losses to the Chicago White Sox in games started by a left-handed pitcher.

Toronto is scheduled to face three left-handers during its four-game set in Oakland, which starts on Thursday evening. The club could face two more southpaws next week in its three-game series in Anaheim.

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