- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 17, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) - Jose Bautista was worried his injury was worse.

The star slugger landed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday but was relieved to learn there’s no structural damage in his ailing left wrist. He thinks he could return to Toronto’s lineup as soon as he’s eligible, though manager John Farrell said it’s too early to tell.

“The last thing that we want is to push this to the point of any kind of relapse or the potential for any other damage that might be incurred if he’s not fully ready to go,” Farrell said. “So we can fully appreciate his eagerness, but we’ll monitor this closely daily as we go through at least these first 15 days.”

Bautista left Monday night’s loss to the New York Yankees after feeling pain in his wrist on an eighth-inning swing that produced a long foul ball. X-rays were negative and the Blue Jays said the All-Star right fielder had an MRI on Tuesday that revealed inflammation. Bautista called the injury a strain.

“Just as I was finishing my swing I felt something weird around my wrist, and on the recoil is when I felt sharp pain,” said Bautista, who had started all 90 games this season before Tuesday night. “So obviously a little scary at the time. You can’t help but think the worst.

“I thought I had torn something or maybe broken my wrist, but that’s not the case and I’m happy to know that.”

Bautista wore a brace on his wrist as he answered questions from a pack of reporters in the center of Toronto’s clubhouse.

“The only thing that I can think of is I held on with both hands maybe longer than I usually do, and maybe my wrist got turned in a direction that it never gets turned,” he said. “That just maybe put too much stress in the area and maybe kind of hyperextended it.

“Just one of those freak things that you can’t control or predict. It’s just unfortunate that it happened at such an important part of the season and such an important game,” Bautista added. “It’s going to be tough to sit in the dugout.”

To fill Bautista’s roster spot, the Blue Jays (45-45) called up speedy outfielder Anthony Gose from Triple-A Las Vegas. A left-handed hitter, he was expected to start Wednesday against right-hander Hiroki Kuroda.

Ben Francisco replaced Bautista in the lineup Tuesday night against Yankees lefty CC Sabathia, just activated from the disabled list after missing three weeks with a groin strain.

The two-time defending AL home run champion, Bautista was tied for second in the majors with 27 homers. He is batting .244 with 65 RBIs and a .360 on-base percentage.

“His absence will certainly be more of a challenge for us. Anytime you take one of the premier right-handed power hitters in baseball out of the lineup, it’s going to create a little bit of a hole,” Farrell said. “But much like the injuries we’ve sustained in our rotation, we haven’t used it as an excuse. We haven’t allowed that to distract us.”

Bautista won’t be able to pick up a bat for a couple of days, but he’s already on medication to alleviate the inflammation. Doctors told him he won’t make the injury any worse with activity, so his progress will be determined by how much pain he can tolerate.

“When I move it in certain directions, it’s pretty tough,” Bautista said. “But that’s what I’ve got to try to avoid. That’s why I’m wearing a splint, to protect the area, too, from bumping against anything. As long as I don’t move it in certain directions, I’m comfortable.”

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