Bautista unanimously wins monthly award
Slugger named Honda Player of the Month by Toronto BBWAA
NEW YORK -- Jose Bautista was voted the Honda Blue Jays Player of the Month on Sunday afternoon by the Toronto Chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
The vote was unanimous, which should come as no surprise, considering the successful April that Bautista enjoyed as Toronto's No. 3 hitter.
Bautista finished the month with the American League lead in almost every major offensive category. He ranked first in batting average (.366), on-base percentage (.532), OPS (1.312), slugging (.780) and runs scored (25).
The 30-year-old Bautista also led the AL with nine home runs while finishing just one behind Ryan Braun and Alfonso Soriano for most in the Major Leagues. With nine homers, Bautista also finished just one shy of the franchise record for April, which was set by Carlos Delgado in 2001.
Bautista seemed to get stronger as the month went on. Over his final 11 games of April, he hit .455 (15-for-33) with four doubles, one triple, six home runs, nine RBIs and 16 walks.
The 28 walks Bautista drew in April set a club record, surpassing Delgado's mark of 26 from 2001. Bautista also reached base in all but one of the 24 games in which he played.
The Dominican native finished fourth in voting for the AL Most Valuable Player Award in 2010 after hitting .260 with 54 home runs and 124 RBIs. He is a favorite to be named the AL Player of the Month for April.
Honda will make a donation to the charity of Bautista's choosing.
Bautista: Neck tightness 'nothing major'
NEW YORK -- Jose Bautista was removed from Sunday's 5-2 loss to the Yankees in the seventh inning because of neck tightness.
Bautista had been experiencing discomfort in the area since the Blue Jays' trip to Texas late last week.
The 30-year-old walked during the seventh inning before Corey Patterson entered the game as a pinch-runner.
"It's one of those things where you sleep on your neck a little wrong," Bautista said. "It was bothering me for a couple of days, and it just got really tight today. I figured that was a good time to get somebody else a good chance of scoring with a double, because it hurts when I'm running and throwing the ball."
Bautista said his neck tightened up as Sunday's game progressed, but it is not something that he expects to keep him out of action for a prolonged period of time.
"I'll be ready for the next game -- it's not going to be an issue," Bautista said. "It's nothing major. It's just like I said -- a tight neck."
Bautista finished the afternoon 0-for-2 with a pair of walks. The Dominican native entered the game hitting .357 with nine home runs and 16 RBIs in 25 games this season.
Cooper notches first Major League hit
NEW YORK -- Blue Jays designated hitter David Cooper recorded the first hit of his Major League career during the second inning of Sunday afternoon's 5-2 loss to the Yankees.
Cooper blooped a single to right field on a 2-2 pitch from Yankees starter Ivan Nova for his first hit in eight at-bats this season. He recorded the first RBI of his career on Saturday afternoon with a sacrifice fly to left.
"It was great," said Cooper, who finished the afternoon 2-for-3 with a walk. "Something I obviously wanted to do, to get the monkey off the back, so to speak, and get it over with so you can get to playing the game again.
"This is kind of the Mecca of baseball. So not only being here, but being able to get my first hit here, is something I'll never forget."
The 24-year-old Cooper was promoted to the Major Leagues on Friday. He was hitting .395 with two home runs and 19 RBIs in 20 games this season for Triple-A Las Vegas.
Back at Triple-A, Snider finds his stroke
NEW YORK -- Travis Snider obviously didn't let his surprise demotion to the Minor Leagues affect his approach at the plate.
Snider went a perfect 4-for-4 on Saturday night in his first game since being optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas on Thursday. He also added a walk and recorded one double.
"I think more than anything, it's good to see ... he has taken the right approach and the right attitude to it," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "That's the one thing that he can control at this point, and that has all been very positive."
Snider was expected to be a major component of the Blue Jays' offensive attack this season, but he struggled at the plate for most of April. The 23-year-old hit just .184 with one home run and 12 RBIs in 25 games.
Toronto made the decision to send Snider to Triple-A to work on his mechanics at the plate. There is no set timetable for his return, and Farrell said the club will be looking at more than just overall results.
"We made it very clear to Travis that it wasn't just going to be numbers or performance-related," Farrell said. "We wanted to see a little bit more of a direct swing path. We wanted to see him not come out and around pitches as much as he showed here. Those [changes] aren't going to happen overnight."
The Las Vegas 51s currently have a bit of a logjam in the outfield. Scott Podsednik and Dewayne Wise recently joined the team, which already featured prospects Darin Mastroianni, Adam Loewen and Eric Thames.
That means Snider will occasionally see starts at designated hitter while also getting some work in right field. Farrell said the positioning isn't as important as Snider's improvement at the plate because the Blue Jays already know where Snider projects to play in the Major Leagues.
"First and foremost, it's the swing," Farrell said of Snider's areas of improvement. "It's not so much the defensive side because we, for sure, see him as a left fielder.
"He has a lot of abilities that I think fit the style of play that we like to go about [with] each game, and we're certainly looking forward to getting him back."
Snider is hitting .246 with 26 home runs and 86 RBIs in parts of four seasons in the Major Leagues.
Injured Hill's progress quicker than Nix's
NEW YORK -- Blue Jays infielders Aaron Hill and Jayson Nix continue to see slow but steady progress in their rehab assignments.
Both players are currently on the 15-day disabled list with leg injuries. Hill is suffering from a right hamstring strain, while Nix is out with a left shin bruise.
Hill is eligible to come off the DL on Thursday, and Blue Jays manager John Farrell is optimistic the veteran will be healthy enough to return shortly after that date. But Farrell also added that the club would like to see Hill play at least two games in the Minor Leagues before coming back.
"Aaron is champing at the bit," Farrell said of the former Silver Slugger Award winner, who is hitting .242 with nine RBIs this season. "He's hopeful to be back in the lineup later [next] week. We hope that's in fact the case, so he's going to get into some games probably by midweek."
Nix's return is expected to require more time than that of his counterpart. The 28-year-old Nix suffered his injury during a collision at second base on April 22 against Tampa Bay.
Rays infielder Sean Rodriguez slid into the bag, trying to break up a double play, and went directly into Nix's leg. That caused Nix's knee to buckle while also twisting his ankle, affecting his mobility, and the club still isn't sure exactly when Nix will be able to get into a game.
"He is making steady progress," Farrell said. "He's taking ground balls, he's starting to take [batting practice]. How quickly he can get into his normal range laterally is really the one thing we're keying in on right now."
Nix is batting .244 with two home runs and five RBIs in 17 games this season.
Blue Jays first baseman Adam Lind entered Sunday's game against the Yankees batting .351 (13-for-37) with three home runs and 12 RBIs over his past nine contests. ... Left fielder Juan Rivera entered the series finale riding a nine-game hitting streak and was batting .382 (13-for-34) over that span.