Bautista out for Blue Jays season with left wrist surgery: Griffin
In an announcement that represented both bad news and good news for the Blue Jays, it was determined on Tuesday that all-star right fielder Jose Bautista will undergo season-ending surgery to repair damage in his left wrist that had destabilized a sheath that housed a tendon, causing him pain during certain swings.
The bad news is that their best player, the two-time defending major-league home run champion and the key to the Jays' offence will be lost for the season. The good news is that, after traveling to Cleveland to see hand specialist Dr. Thomas Graham, there is a certain closure to what had been lingering questions about Bautista's future health.
Bautista was first injured on a swing on July 16, hitting a long foul ball at Yankee Stadium against David Robertson and being brought to his knees in pain at the on deck circle. He was on the diabled list and twoce began a dry swing, batting tee, soft toss, batting practice program that had to be halted then resumed.
Bautista saw a different specialist in St. Petersburg, Dr. Douglas Carlin, who prescribed the continued rest and rehab. Finally Bautista returned to the field with the Gulf Coast Jays, A-Dunedin that AA-New Hampshire. He rejoined the Jays last Friday in Baltimore playing one game, then after a walk on Saturday, he pulled himself out and was immediately DL'd.
"It was really a combination of things," manager John Farrell explained. "When Jose first went down and the initial examination first took place, it was determined at that time that through rest and the symptoms, quieting down through the outlined program, that to return, the number of games were prescribed.
"Without any symptoms on his part, we felt like that after the number of at-bats that he had, at-bats that he was able to get while on rehab, he came back to us. We saw what happened after the two games that he played and really the feeling of instability in there is what prompted Dr. Graham to make the recommendation to have the surgery."
The same surgery had been performed on Rays' outfielder Sam Fuld, who had also tried to heal his wrist through rest and rehab and missed much of the 2011 season. The recovery time is pegged at three to four months, with full resumption of baseball activities in six months. That would have Bautista ready to participate at spring training 2013.
"The only way I could have played again this year without having surgery was to do what we did, I tried, there's just too much instability in that tendon," Bautista explained. "It got to the point where risking injuring the tendon was not worth it. That's why we're opting to do it now, that way I have plenty of time to be ready for spring training and the season."
It's really a blessing for the Jays and for Bautista. Rather than having the uncertainty hanging over his future, whether without surgery this problem would continue to pop up, Bautista now will have a corrective procedure to stabilize the wrist moving forward. There is little chance, given what had happened that he was going to be able to return and be effective at all, even into September.
“In this case that's a good way to look at it," Farrell said. "It's a definitive plan going forward. Everything points to this being a three to four month recovery and rehab to normal strength, likely a six-month total return, so that puts him in line to be back in games for spring training, provided all goes according to the protocol, which we fully expect. But unfortunately right now, that's the next step for him."
Bautista ended his season batting .241, with an .885 OPS. He hammered 27 homers and drove in 65 runs, with 59 walks and 63 strikeouts. Bautista offered a self evaluation of his injury-shortened season, that began slowly but had begun to build momentum.
"I didn't have the consistency I wanted to but I think I picked it up in the production and was able to contribute," Joey Bats said of a season that earned him a trip to the All-Star Game for the third straight year.
"What I really wanted to do at the beginning of the year was remain healthy, and I said that many times, and unfortunately I wasn't able to. At least I can put my head on my pillow and know it wasn't because of a lack of work or a lack of preparation, it's just an accident that happens on a baseball play, you can't control those things."
Bautista now has time to think about his future and that of the Blue Jays. He has three years remaining on his five year contract, with an option for 2016. He wants to win.
"Offensively I don't really think we need much else than what we have," Bautista said. "Just like has been addressed before, since a lot of injuries have happened to the pitching staff, (that) is the best way to improve our club. Obviously that's (GM Alex Anthopoulos's) job and he'll look for ways to make this club better. I trust in him to do that as best as he can. Going forward next year, which is light years away right now, I'm really excited."
The Jays will go with Moises Sierra in right until September then add Anthony Gose to the mix. It will be a learning process in a season that is already lost.