CINCINNATI – The Blue Jays come limping home after a 3-7 road trip in more ways than one.
Jose Bautista and Brett Lawrie were lost to injury in Sunday's 4-3 loss to the Reds on a sweltering day at Great American Ballpark.
Lawrie will be placed on the 15-day disabled list on Monday with a fractured right index finger, suffered in the second inning when he was hit by a Johnny Cueto fastball.
It was the third time on the road trip Lawrie had been hit by a pitch on the hands. He was emotional, welling up at the thought of missing significant time as the ballclub trudges through a difficult month, clearly frustrated at his bad luck in Baltimore, New York and Cincinnati.
"I don't even know what to say to be honest," he said, before being prompted for more.
"It hurt a little bit more than usual so it kind of made me feel like something might be going on," said Lawrie. "It just started to settle in when I was on first base and I had to go get it checked out. It's one of those things."
An inning later, Jose Bautista came up with runners on first and second and nobody out. He stunned the Reds, the entire stadium for that matter, when he dropped down a sacrifice bunt. Bautista was safe on a bang-bang play at first, facilitated by a Johnny Cueto fielding error. Standing on the bag, he seemed bothered by leg pain.
Two hitters later, Colby Rasmus singled through the right side to cash two runs. Bautista advanced to second and waved for trainer George Poulis. His day was done, tightness in the back of his left leg to blame.
"I had a little tightness in the area for the past couple of days but playing through it and today just got bad enough that I didn't want to risk serious injury," said Bautista. "Just a precaution to come out; take a precautionary MRI just to make sure there's nothing going on there. That's it, hopefully it's not too bad and hopefully I can get back into the lineup whenever."
Bautista said he "didn't feel too bad" after the game but wouldn't venture a guess on a timeline for his absence, preferring to wait for the results of the MRI.
"Sometimes there are areas of your body you feel okay, if there's something going on, it's better to rest it for a couple of days instead of rushing back and making it worse," he said. "We'll see what the MRIs say."
With Lawrie and reliever Brett Cecil on the disabled list and Bautista a possibility to join them, the Jays, losers of 11 of their last 15 after marauding to a 38-24 record to begin the year, will have to get creative with the roster.
This could mean more playing time for Juan Francisco at third base. A Munenori Kawasaki and Steve Tolleson platoon at second base is less than desirable but may be required under the circumstances.
At the moment, the Jays don't have a true fourth outfielder and would be well served to offset the disabling of Lawrie by recalling either Anthony Gose or Kevin Pillar.
These are trying times for a club that only three weeks ago was the toast of baseball.
"The bottom line is on this road trip we didn't pitch good enough other than a couple of days, we didn't hit enough and our defence was shoddy," said manager John Gibbons. "So, you know what? You get what you deserve and that's what we got on this road trip."