DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP) Jose Bautista hit a two-run double for the split-squad Toronto Blue Jays in a 5-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Saturday.
Bautista doubled to the left-center field gap off starter Alex Wood in the third inning, scoring Jose Reyes and Russell Martin.
Bautista, a five-time All-Star, is batting .324 with five home runs and 12 RBIs in 14 exhibition games.
Wood gave up three runs on six hits in six innings. The left-hander also walked one and struck out two.
”He got himself in a couple jams. It was nice to see that he had to get out of those jams, working through those things, because sometimes you go 1-2-3, 1-2-3 every single time,” Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said. ”It’s a little different. You don’t get the adrenaline, the juices flowing.”
”Today, he faced a really, really good, right-handed, dominant lineup and he did great,” he said.
Pitching for the first time since sustaining a minor ankle injury last Sunday, Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada allowed an RBI single by Phil Goselin in the second. Estrada yielded five hits and struck out three in three innings.
Jace Peterson hit a two-run double for the Braves.
Blue Jays: Estrada, who hadn’t faced hitters since March 15, said it took some time getting used to being on the mound.
”I’ll be honest, I felt a little weird being out there again,” Estrada said. ”Just haven’t seen a hitter in a couple weeks almost, but overall arm-wise, I felt really good. Timing was a little off. I rushed a few pitches that I left up. … But other than that, I felt pretty good.”
Blue Jays: OF Michael Saunders (torn meniscus) should begin running in the next couple days. He is expected to start the season on the disabled list. … LHP Johan Santana (shoulder) has been progressing well as he continues to play catch, but isn’t expected to begin throwing off a mound until at least mid-April. The two-time AL Cy Young Award winner in camp on a minor league contract and has an April 28 opt-out clause.
Toronto manager John Gibbons praised pitcher Kyle Drabek, who was claimed off waivers by the White Sox on Friday.
The righty was the centerpiece of a 2009 blockbuster trade that sent two-time Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay to Philadelphia, but he never panned out with the Blue Jays. In five seasons, Drabek was a combined 8-15 with a 5.27 ERA in 39 games.
”Good for him,” Gibbons said. ”We would have loved to have kept him, but you know what, he gets another big league opportunity and we’re all pulling for him. He’s a great guy. He’s been through a lot.”
NICE MOVES, JUNIOR
Atlanta center fielder Eric Young Jr. robbed Toronto’s Devon Travis of an extra-base hit in the third by making a head-first diving catch in left-center field. Then in the fourth, Young made a leaping grab at the wall in right-center on a long fly ball by Josh Donaldson.
Braves: Right-hander Shelby Miller will make his fifth start on Sunday against the Pirates in Bradenton. Miller, who was acquired from St. Louis in an offseason trade, has struggled this spring, giving up six runs in 12 1-3 innings.
Blue Jays: Mark Buehrle is scheduled to start on Sunday against an Orioles split squad in Dunedin. The left-hander has allowed three runs in three exhibition starts.