Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Jays' Jose Bautista seeks full, healthy season

DUNEDIN — Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista hopes to hit one big goal this year: staying healthy.

Bautista has finished the past two seasons on the disabled list (left wrist, 2012, bruised left hip, 2013).

Before those problems, he led the majors in homers for two straight years.

"I know that both injuries that I've had — the ones that have actually took me out of the lineup for an extended period of time — were from impact plays or just a freak accident with the wrist," Bautista said Friday after the first full-squad workout.

"It's not because I was neglecting my training regimen or anything like that. But it is disappointing, and it is upsetting that I don't get to go out there and finish the season with the team and finish strong."

Now the 33-year-old wants to prove he can stay on the field and return to being the player who set a club record with 54 homers in 2010.

Bautista said he began preparations for 2014 early in the offseason and spent time working out in Tampa with teammate Melky Cabrera.

"It was kind of easy and natural, and we just decided to start earlier than we normally do," Bautista said. "We are both coming off injuries, and we wanted to try to get into the best shape of our lives before spring training started."

Yankees: Tanaka's splitter lively in batting practice

TAMPA — RHP Masahiro Tanaka impressed C Austin Romine when the Japanese star threw his first batting practice for the Yankees.

Tanaka threw 25 pitches, facing five batters for five pitches each. Romine, tracking the ball in the batter's box without swinging, watched five pitches go by and marveled. At one point, Romine turned and asked C Brian McCann what pitch Tanaka had thrown. Turns out it was his famous splitter.

"I've never seen the ball move like that before," Romine said.

"As good as advertised," McCann said. "I know it's only a live bullpen, but you can tell he's got the stuff. He's got a great split. It really falls off the table. His motion is completely the same as his fastball, and that's the key to getting swings and misses."

Tanaka went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last year, leading the Rakuten Golden Eagles to their first Japan Series title.

"I think I'm getting into the rhythm of this whole thing," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "I feel pretty good about what I did today."

Phillies: Abreu vying for left-handed bat spot

CLEARWATER — Bobby Abreu is certain he has a lot to offer a major-league team, even if he's a few weeks shy of 40 years old.

Abreu is getting a chance to prove himself as a nonroster player with the Phillies. He was out of the big leagues last season after hitting .242 in 100 games with the Dodgers and Angels in 2012.

Abreu began his comeback this offseason by playing winter ball in his native Venezuela.

"I know I'm not the same when I was 25, 26, but I'm still fine," said Abreu, a two-time All-Star with the Phillies. "I can still hit, I can still steal bases, run the bases pretty good."

As exhibition games draw nearer, Abreu is viewed as a favorite to make the club's opening-day roster as the top left-handed reserve. Most of the returning reserves hit from the right side: Kevin Frandsen, John Mayberry and Darin Ruf.

"A left-handed bat is necessary and needed there," manager Ryne Sandberg said.

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