TORONTO -- Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista swung a bat on Monday afternoon for the first time since being temporarily shut down on Aug. 1 because of lingering soreness in his left wrist.
Bautista hasn't played since spraining his wrist during a swing in New York on July 16. He began swinging a bat approximately 10 days later but when the ailment didn't improve enough, he was forced to stop and undergo another MRI.
The results showed mild inflammation and another period of rest was recommended before resuming baseball activities. He'll now begin the slow process of getting himself prepared for Major League pitching.
"We're going to go at the pace that his [pain] tolerance allows," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "Right now, I don't have an end date or a target date for his return.
"There has been some [improvement], so to what extent that improvement has been realized will be seen here today. Today is just to initiate dry swings with some potential tee work."
Bautista is one of four regulars from the Blue Jays lineup -- Adam Lind, J.P. Arencibia and Brett Lawrie -- who are currently on the disabled list. He is hitting .244 with 27 homers and 65 RBIs in 90 games.
Morrow expected to make two more rehab starts
TORONTO -- Brandon Morrow's return to the Blue Jays likely won't happen for at least another 11 days.
Morrow is scheduled to make a rehab start for Double-A New Hampshire on Tuesday night. That was originally expected to be his final rehab outing, but the Blue Jays are now plannning to give him one more Minor League start to ensure his arm is properly stretched out.
"To get him to what we feel is a comfortable level of 85 pitches at the Minor League level before getting back here, he's going to need two more starts to accomplish that," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said.
"We're not going to look to add 15 pitches [in his first big league start] to get to 85-plus bringing him back. As we mentioned the other day, it's a compounding effect in my mind."
Morrow allowed just two runs on three hits while striking out two in his first start for New Hampshire. That followed two outings for Class A Dunedin, but in his final start he threw just 51 pitches.
That prompted the Blue Jays to decide he will need a little more time before making a return. The concern is that bringing back Morrow too early would result in overtaxing the bullpen and an approximate 85-pitch plateau appears to be as low as Toronto is willing to go.
Farrell has mentioned in the past he is contemplating going to a six-man rotation, but that will not happen at least for the foreseeable future. With left-hander J.A. Happ transitioning from the bullpen, the club doesn't want to take a reliever out of the bullpen to accommodate an extra starter.
"At this point, no," Farrell said of the six-man rotation. "In combination with getting Brandon to 85 pitches, we're still getting J.A. stretched out as well. Having two of those guys at the same time is challenging."
Morrow hasn't pitched for the Blue Jays since straining his left oblique muscle on June 11. He is 7-3 with a 3.01 ERA and three shutouts while striking out 67 in 77 2/3 innings.
Rookies learning to adjust to quality pitching
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays finally broke out of their prolonged slump on Sunday afternoon with a 10-7 victory over the Yankees.
The outpouring was more runs than Toronto had scored in its previous five games combined and ended a drought that was two weeks in the making.
One game doesn't mean the offense has suddenly sprung to life, but it does have the potential to relieve some of the pressure from rookies who are experiencing life in the Major Leagues for the first time.
"If we get pitches in the middle of the plate as we did yesterday, yeah it has a chance for that," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "I thought we ran the bases aggressively when we did get on. So, we were able to do some things when we scored first and could be a little more aggressive when situations allowed.
"But, still, just talking about the young guys as a group, they're clearly still getting their feet on the ground."
With an injury-riddled lineup, the Blue Jays have turned to rookies Moises Sierra, Adeiny Hechavarria and Anthony Gose to help fill the void. Hechavarria and Gose arrived with more pedigree but it's Sierra who has made the most out of his opportunity so far.
The 23-year-old entered Monday hitting .345 (10-for-29) with two RBIs, while recording two three-hit games since being promoted on July 31. It's still a small sample size, though, so Farrell isn't going to get caught up with the impressive stats just as he won't read too much into a struggling Gose, who is in the process of making adjustments to facing higher quality pitching.
"He's had difficulty with some offspeed pitches, breaking ball and changeup from right-handers," Farrell said of Gose, who is hitting just .194 in 18 games.
"So, he's learning on the job and I think there has been a willingness by the opposition to attack him readily and if he's not getting a fastball early in the count to square a pitch up and if it's a foul ball or a take, then they can go to their secondary pitches. The book gets out pretty quick."
Brett Lawrie, who is currently on the 15-day disabled list, is making progress with his strained left oblique muscle. Lawrie has shown signs of improvement in the past couple of days and is expected to come off the DL when he becomes eligible on Sunday.
"Talking to him over the weekend, he feels improved, as far as the movements that he's being put through in rehab right now," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "Ideal situation, he gets into some games later this week, into the weekend, down in Florida. Fact is, he'll miss two weeks, so we need him to get a couple of games under his belt before coming back."