Bautista hits fifth spring homer to lead Jays past Rays

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — With every ball that Jose Bautista launches far over the wall, the Toronto Blue Jays are more certain he’s back to form. Bautista hit his fifth home run of the spring, a long solo shot that helped the Blue Jays beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 Thursday.

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — With every ball that Jose Bautista launches far over the wall, the Toronto Blue Jays are more certain he’s back to form.

Bautista hit his fifth home run of the spring, a long solo shot that helped the Blue Jays beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 Thursday.

Bautista, a two-time home run champion, had season-ending surgery on his left wrist last Sept. 4. He finished the year with 27 homers and 65 RBIs while batting .241.

His drive to deep left-centre field was another reassuring sign for his team.

“He’s healthy. We’ve felt good about him the last three weeks,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “He’s gotten past that and shown no signs of anything being wrong.”

Roberto Hernandez is feeling better himself, too.

The Tampa Bay pitcher threw six innings, allowing one run on three hits while striking out two and walking no one. He also got Bautista to ground into a double play in the first. The only blemish was a home run by Colby Rasmus.

“Everything was working,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “His fastball really had good dive to it. Nice changeup, His slider. All good.”

By now, most are somewhat familiar with the Hernandez story. He is probably still best known as Fausto Carmona. It was under that name that in 2007, at age 26, he went 19-8, finished fourth in the AL Cy Young Award voting and helped the Indians get within a game of World Series.

A big contract followed, but Hernandez was never able to replicate the success he enjoyed that season. His heavy sinking fastball didn’t sink enough, and he couldn’t locate the rest of his pitches.

The 32-year-old Hernandez was later arrested in the Dominican Republic on false identity charges. The charges were dropped after he completed a work program, and Major League Baseball suspended him for three weeks.

Hernandez sprained his right ankle last August and missed the rest of the year. He has pitched seven years in the majors, all with Cleveland. He was 0-3 with a 7.53 ERA last season.

The Rays, remembering the 19-8 arm and not the struggles that followed, signed him in the off-season. He is competing for the fifth spot in the rotation.

“Every game is very important for me,” he said. “Whenever I have the opportunity to go the mound, every pitch is important. Today, I think I did great. I tried to keep the ball down and get some groundballs.”

Eugenio Velez also homered for Toronto. The Rays’ only run came in the sixth inning on an infield single from James Loney.

Four Blue Jays pitchers, led by starter Claudio Vargas, combined to allow only six hits and struck out nine.

Just Posted

Court to rule on B.C.’s pipeline permit law in crucial case for Trans Mountain

VANCOUVER — A court will rule today if a proposed British Columbia… Continue reading

Theresa May: A prime minister defined and defeated by Brexit

LONDON — Theresa May became prime minister in 2016 with one overriding… Continue reading

SpaceX launches 60 little satellites, 1st of thousands

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX has launched 60 little satellites, the first… Continue reading

Cross-Canada corridor concept getting dusted off ahead of election

OTTAWA — The notion of a pan-Canadian corridor dedicated to rail, power… Continue reading

RCMP investigate suspicious package in downtown Red Deer

Part of downtown Red Deer was closed to traffic due to a… Continue reading

Dogs and drugs don’t mix: Red Deer business wants to leave downtown after 18 years

One business owner is done with downtown Red Deer after 18 years.… Continue reading

Cast your votes for the Best of Red Deer

Nominations for the Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are officially… Continue reading

O Canada: Hockey hotbed now produces tennis players, too

ROME — It’s typically Canadian that Denis Shapovalov, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Bianca… Continue reading

Proctor back chasing running records after cross-Canada speed attempt

CALGARY — Dave Proctors’ attempted speed record across Canada last summer was… Continue reading

Big names headed to New Mexico to film ‘The Comeback Trail’

SANTA FE, N.M. — Oscar winners Robert De Niro, Tommy Lee Jones… Continue reading

Lawyer: Deal close in Weinstein sexual misconduct lawsuits

NEW YORK — A tentative deal has been reached to settle multiple… Continue reading

Seniors: The unheard melodies

The sights and sounds around us enable us to experience our world.… Continue reading

Police find urn with ashes along bank of Red Deer River

RCMP find urn with ashes along bank of Red Deer River Red… Continue reading

North Vancouver RCMP seek skier whose pole caused brain injury to B.C. teen

VANCOUVER — A North Vancouver family is joining with RCMP to urge… Continue reading

Most Read