07/28/10 1:09 AM ET
On both sides of ball, Bautista impresses
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
Bautista was later asked why runners keep testing his arm.
"I don't know," Bautista replied with a laugh.
Entering Tuesday, Bautista not only paced the Majors with 28 home runs, but led the American League with eight outfield assists. What has made the latter stat even more impressive is the fact that Bautista has split his time primarily between right field (593 2/3 innings) and third base (265 innings).
Prior to Tuesday's contest, Bautista averaged 0.12 assists per nine innings as a right fielder for the Blue Jays. In just 70 starts in the outfield last season, Bautista had a Major League-leading rate of 0.15 assists per nine innings as an outfielder. His 11 assists in 2009 led Toronto outfielders and ranked fourth overall in the AL.
"You sometimes hope," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said, "that there's a base hit that's going to be hit to him when you've got a winning run or tying run at second base, giving him a chance to throw them out.
"There's not a whole lot [better than Bautista]. There's some good right fielders out there, but he's done a great job -- outstanding."
Bautista added to his impressive resume on Tuesday, smacking another two homers -- pushing his league-leading total to 30 -- and adding another outfield assist, when he nailed Nick Markakis, who was trying to move to third from second on a Luke Scott sac fly.
Mills will get start in series finale
TORONTO -- Following Tuesday's 8-2 win over the Orioles, the Blue Jays recalled left-hander Brad Mills from Triple-A Las Vegas. Mills will get the nod for the finale of the three-game set against Baltimore on Wednesday.
Mills, a fourth-round pick by Toronto in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, has posted a 7-4 record with a 4.13 ERA in 16 starts for Las Vegas this season. The lefty made two starts for the Blue Jays in 2009.
In order to vacate a spot on the active roster for Mills, the Blue Jays optioned backup infielder Mike McCoy to Triple-A.
To his surprise, Purcey collects first save
TORONTO -- At first, David Purcey was not sure why Blue Jays catcher Jose Molina presented him with the baseball used to retire the final out of Monday's 9-5 victory over the Orioles. The big lefty thought the four-run lead negated his first career save.
Purcey was thrilled to be wrong.
"It was nice," Purcey said. "I didn't even know it was happening."
Purcey entered the game with runners on the corners and two outs in the eighth inning, when the Jays were clinging to an 8-5 lead. He escaped that jam unscathed and -- after Toronto added an insurance run in the home half of the frame -- Purcey turned in a clean ninth inning to pick up the save.
The road to Purcey's first career save was paved by circumstance. Due to a doubleheader on Sunday in Detroit, the Blue Jays only had Purcey and right-hander Casey Janssen available out of the bullpen, barring extra innings. Even so, Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston believes Purcey could one day have a home as a late-inning reliever.
"Yeah, I think so," Gaston said on Tuesday. "He's growing into it. I think yesterday was good for him because it was an intense situation. He did a good job with it. Every time he goes out there, I'm excited to see what he's going to do. So far, he hasn't let us down. He's done a good job.
"He's a different kid in the clubhouse. I think he feels more like he belongs here now."
This is the first season that Purcey has worked as a reliever for Toronto. The 6-foot-4 southpaw went 4-9 with a 5.81 ERA in 21 starts between the 2008-09 seasons for the club, but a surplus of young arms pushed Purcey to the 'pen this year. In 18 relief outings, all he has done is post a 1.74 ERA with a .176 opponents' batting average.
Purcey has been enjoying his new role.
"It's kind of fun," the lefty said with a smile. "People are always yelling at you, but I've heard people yelling since college. The more personal they get, the more I focus in."
Upon Snider's return, Jays to shuffle outfield
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays are not ready to reveal when Travis Snider will be promoted from the Minor Leagues, but on Tuesday, manager Cito Gaston was willing to discuss how playing time might be handled upon the outfielder's return.
"It's not going to be easy," Gaston admitted. "I talked about this earlier in the year, and it hasn't happened that much, but we'll try to give guys a day off a week. It's tough to do sometimes. We might be leaning more that way -- just rotating the guys."
Gaston said Snider, who has hit .342 with four homers and 13 RBIs over his past 10 games with Double-A New Hampshire, will split his time between left and right field when he comes back. Snider was sidelined with a right wrist issue earlier this year and was optioned to Double-A after being activated from the disabled list on July 17.
In rotating things around to manage playing time, Gaston would likely also move Fred Lewis between left and right field, Jose Bautista between right field and third base and Edwin Encarnacion between third and the bench.
There is a chance that Snider could rejoin the Blue Jays for the upcoming weekend series against the Indians. Gaston has indicated that he and general manager Alex Anthopoulos will make a decision following Thursday's team off-day.
Class A Dunedin third baseman Mark Sobolewski was named the Florida State League Player of the Week for the week of July 19-25. Over that span, Sobolewski hit .423 (11-for-26) with three home runs, two doubles and 10 RBIs. He is the fourth player to win the weekly award this season, joining catcher Travis d'Arnaud, outfielder Welinton Ramirez and infielder John Tolisano. ... On Monday, Triple-A Las Vegas lefty Marc Rzepczynski logged 6 2/3 innings in a 5-3 win over Portland. Rzepczynski allowed one run on three hits with six strikeouts and two walks. ... Double-A New Hampshire shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria went 3-for-5 with a home run and two runs scored in an 8-3 win over Harrisburg on Monday. Hechavarria is currently riding a season-high 11-game hitting streak. ... Class A Lansing outfielder Brad Glenn went 4-for-4 and hit for the cycle in a 9-5 win over Clinton on Monday.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.