Skipper John Farrell may have wished he could write Bautista’s name on the lineup card, or at least have him grab a bat and pinch hit.
Bautista injured his wrist on July 16 and went on the DL. He came back in August and re-injured the wrist after playing two games. The decision was made, with the Jays not contending, to shut him down for the season.
When he left the lineup in July, he had 27 homers and the Jays were one over .500 even after the loss of three starting pitchers. They end play tonight 17 under break even.
Can one player make that big a difference? Yes.
Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion were as good a 3-4 pair in the order as any in baseball. With Bautista out, Encarnacion could be pitched around, and the whole offense suffered.
The Jays acquired their Big Guy as pretty much an afterthought.
Five years after the Baltimore Orioles selected him in the 2003 Rule 5 draft from the Pittsburgh Pirates, and four years after he returned to the Pirates, the Jays got him for a player to be named later, who turned out to be catcher Robinzon Diaz.
Diaz is out of baseball. The light bulb went on for Bautista in 2010. His 54 home runs led both leagues. He followed that with 43 homers and a .302 average in 2011, and was on his way to another 40-plus total this year.
His baseball journey brings to mind another player who hit a lot of home runs for someone else, but after the Jays let him get away: Cecil Fielder.
A healthy Jose Bautista hitting ahead of Encarnacion is another reason Jays fans can look forward to a productive 2013 season.