Jose Bautista went 0-for-6 with two strikeouts for the Triple-A Gwinnett Stripers in a doubleheader against the Rochester Red Wings on Monday as he nears a return to the major leagues. After being promoted, Bautista batted first in each game. He played third base, his new position, in the opening game and was the designated hitter in the second game.
In the opener, Bautista went 0-for-3 in a 1-0 Stripers victory.
Bautista flied out to right in the first, struck out in the third and lined out to left in the sixth of the seven-inning game.
In the second game, Bautista went 0-for-3 in a 2-1 Red Wings victory.
He popped out to the catcher in the first, grounded out to second in the third and struck out in the fifth of the seven-inning game.
Bautista went 1-for-4 with a double and a walk in his second game with high Single-A Florida on Sunday before joining the Stripers on Monday.
Bautista, 37, was 2-for-7 with a double, two walks and no strikeouts for Florida, joining the team after just a couple of days of workouts at the Braves’ spring-training facility in Florida.
The Braves signed him to a minor league deal Tuesday that will pay a prorated salary of $1 million if he makes the major league team, which is looking more likely by the day.
It’s possible Bautista could join the Braves at some point during a three-city, 10-game trip that starts Monday in Cincinnati, though the team has given no timetable.
Bautista hit 22 or more homers in eight consecutive seasons for the Blue Jays through 2017, including American League-leading totals of 54 homers in 2010 and 43 in 2011, the year he led the AL in RBIs (132), slugging percentage (.608) and OPS (1.056) while batting .302 with a .447 OBP to finish third in the league MVP balloting.
The 14-year veteran was an All-Star for six consecutive seasons through 2015.
In addition, Tyler Flowers caught and batted third in the opening game as he began a rehab assignment. He went 0-for-2 but his groundout scored Ronald Acuna with a the game’s lone run.
Flowers, who strained an oblique on opening day, will stay with the Triple-A team for that entire series through Wednesday, then catch a homestand opener Friday at Gwinnett, Braves manager Brian Snitker said.
At that point, Flowers and the Braves will reassess the situation. Snitker said that up to a two-week injury-rehab schedule of games has been mapped out for the 32-year-old veteran, if he needs it.
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