Published On: Tue, Aug 23rd, 2016

Atkins: Bautista could return later this week

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The Toronto Blue Jays are poised to welcome a big bat back to their lineup, as general manager Ross Atkins said ahead of Tuesday’s series opener against the Los Angeles Angels that right fielder Jose Bautista could return from the disabled list later this week.

Sidelined since Aug. 10 due to left knee sprain, Bautista is progressing well in his recovery, Atkins said, and though he’s eligible to return Thursday, the six-time All-Star is expected to appear in some rehab games before rejoining the Blue Jays, according to’s Gregor Chisolm.

Bautista, who missed about six weeks earlier this season with a hyperextended toe, has seen his production tail off this year, but the 35-year-old will be a welcome addition to Toronto’s scuffling outfield. Since placing Bautista on the disabled list 13 days ago, less than a week after Kevin Pillar landed on the DL with a thumb sprain, the Blue Jays – tied for first place in the AL East – have received negligible production from their patchwork outfield comprised of Michael Saunders, Melvin Upton Jr., Ezequiel Carrera, Darrell Ceciliani, and, briefly, Darwin Barney and Junior Lake.

Last 14 days

Name PA AVG wRC+ K% HR
Melvin Upton Jr. 41 .278 129 29.3% 3
Ezequiel Carrera 22 .136 -28 36.4% 0
Darrell Ceciliani 22 .150 27 45.5% 0
Michael Saunders 41 .158 26 29.3% 1

A free agent this winter, Bautista owns a .793 OPS (112 OPS+) with 15 homers and 18 doubles through 80 games this year, and boasts the seventh-highest BB/K rate (0.92) among hitters with at least 300 plate appearances.

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