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Toronto Blue Jays' Jose Bautista making case to stay at top of batting order

DUNEDIN — RF Jose Bautista merely looked like a clean-up hitter for the Blue Jays on Friday. Manager Cito Gaston has no plans on moving him off the top of the order.

"I think I'll leave him right where he's at," Gaston said after Bautista, the front-runner for the leadoff spot, homered off Philadelphia starter Cole Hamels and added a pair of doubles in a 14-9 victory. "He's been swinging the bat ever since he got the chance to play at the end of last season."

Bautista is not a prototypical leadoff batter. Speed is not a major part of his arsenal.

"It's picking your times to go," he said. "I know I'm not going to try to bunt for hits all the time. I don't have that kind of speed. … I'm not going to go out there and try to steal 50 bags, but there'll be situations and pitches and counts with certain hitters at the plate that I'll be able to take it if the situation commands it."

Making his bid: RHP Brandon Morrow, who bounced between Seattle's rotation and bullpen before being traded to Toronto in December, staked his first claim to being a full-time starter with two hitless innings. He allowed a two-out walk in the first and retired everyone else in order.

Yankees: Chamberlain off in first outing

TAMPA — RHP Joba Chamberlain and the Yankees say they are not concerned about his first spring outing. Chamberlain allowed five runs, three hits and three walks over 11/3 innings in a 12-7 loss to the Rays.

Slowed this week by flulike symptoms that cost him 8 pounds, Chamberlain threw just 14 of 33 pitches for strikes in relief of RHP Phil Hughes, also competing to be the fifth starter.

"I'm not going to make too much out of it," manager Joe Girardi said. "Physically, I don't think he was 100 percent."

Chamberlain replaced Hughes to start the third and gave up three runs, two hits and two walks during the inning. He left with runners on second and third, and one out in the fourth.

"You're not going to win the battle in one game," Chamberlain said. "It's what you do before the game, how you prepare yourself, how you're getting better."

Hughes allowed one run and one hit in two innings — Sean Rodriguez's solo homer.

Phillies: Hamels tinkers

DUNEDIN — LHP Cole Hamels made his spring debut, allowing one run — a homer to Jose Bautista — and two hits over two innings against the Blue Jays.

Hamels threw 32 pitches — 20 for strikes — with two strikeouts and one walk. His fastball hit 89, and he purposefully used his curve and cutter more often.

"There were a couple counts when I would have gone straight to the changeup, but to add the curveball and cutter, it makes it a little bit harder for the hitters," Hamels told MLB.com.

Notable: OF Tyson Gillies, acquired in the December trade that sent Cliff Lee to the Mariners, hit a solo homer off LHP David Purcey in the sixth inning. … Right-handed reliever J.C. Ramirez, also acquired in the Lee trade, was tagged for five runs (four earned) on four hits with three walks in 1⅓ innings.

Fast facts

Yankees

Where: George Steinbrenner Field, corner of Dale Mabry and Martin Luther King, Tampa. Today: vs. Blue Jays, 1:05, MLB Network

Phillies

Where: Bright House Field, 601 Old Coachman Road, Clearwater. Today: at Pirates, 1:05, Bradenton

Blue Jays

Where: Dunedin Stadium, 373 Douglas Ave., Dunedin. Today: at Yankees, 1:05, Tampa, MLB Network

Toronto Blue Jays' Jose Bautista making case to stay at top of batting order 03/05/10 [Last modified: Friday, March 5, 2010 9:35pm]
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