Jays' Bautista returns to Toronto with stiff neck
Jays' all-star outfielder Jose Bautista has not played a game since being removed for a pinch-runner last Sunday at Yankee Stadium and is not certain when he will be ready to go back into the starting lineup. Bautista was pinch-run for in the seventh inning of the series finale against the Yankees with a stiff neck that he had originally suffered in Texas.
After at first assuring reporters that he would be back in the lineup following the off-day in Tampa on Monday, Bautista woke up on Tuesday morning to debilitating muscle spasms in his neck and was taken to see Dr. Thomas Tolli, a back and spine specialist in St. Petersburg. He did not even go to the ballpark until Thursday afternoon to rejoin the team for the flight back to Toronto at the end of a 5-5 road trip.
“It's not 100-percent but it feels a ton better than it did on Tuesday and Sunday when I came out," Bautista said. "It got better until that night when I fell asleep and when I woke up it was pretty tight and it kept getting worse and worse until Tuesday morning.
“I'm trying to get back on the field as soon as I can. That's why I didn't come to the games the last two days. I wanted to stay with the doctor and get as much treatment as we could and he was great. Dr. Tolli is one of the best spinal doctors in the country from what I've been hearing and he did a great job with me. I've progressed a lot, so hopefully I can continue to do that and possibly be available this weekend or Monday.
Bautista estimated that over a span of 48 hours, since his first appointment on Tuesday, he may have taken 40 hours of treatment with the doctor.
“It's really not like the traditional ultrasound and stuff," he said, clearly still unable to comfortably move his neck. "It's more medicine than anything else. Medicine and rest. He recommended a couple of things so that's what we went with. It's really a day-to-day thing. I might wake up tomorrow and feel real good and play Saturday, but we'll see how everything progresses. Realistically I think Sunday or Monday are targets."
In the absence of Bautista, the Jays scored just six runs in the three-game series against the Rays. Bautista, last year's major-league home run leader, leads the AL in batting average, home runs, on-base and slugging. Last season he missed just one game all year.