Does Jose Bautista's Injury Doom the Blue Jays' Playoff Hopes?

Mike MillerContributor IIIJuly 17, 2012

Can the Blue Jays stay in the playoff race with Jose Bautista on the shelf?
Can the Blue Jays stay in the playoff race with Jose Bautista on the shelf?Al Bello/Getty Images

It was a good news, bad news day for the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday.

The good news was that Jose Bautista's wrist injury does not appear to be that serious. Despite being placed on the disabled list, X-rays and an MRI revealed no structural damage, according to Chris Toman of

That means Bautista may return as soon as he is eligible to return to action on August 1st.

"It's all about pain tolerance since there's no structural damage," Bautista told Toman. "As long as you can tolerate the pain, I'm not going to make it any worse unless I do too much, too soon. I'll let pain dictate what I can do, and hopefully two weeks is enough. I'm thinking it will be."

The bad news is that the Blue Jays lost their second straight game to the Yankees, 6-1, on Tuesday night. The loss drops the Jays 11.5 games behind the Yankees in the AL East standings and one game under .500 at 45-46.

While the Blue Jays are still only two games out of the second wild-card spot, currently shared by Baltimore and Oakland, one must wonder if Bautista's injury will put any realistic playoff hopes out of reach.

With three starting pitchers already on the DL, Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison, along with closer Sergio Santos, the Blue Jays may not have the resources to stay in the race until Bautista's return.

The next 10 games are all against fellow playoff contenders.

After one more game with the Yankees, the Blue Jays travel to Fenway for three against the Red Sox before a homestand with three games each against Oakland and Detroit.

Bautista would be eligible to return in the final game of a series at Seattle. If the Jays can't manage to go at least 6-6 in those 12 games, it might signal the end of another frustratingly mediocre season for Toronto.

Ben Francisco started in right field for the Blue Jays on Tuesday. Highly regarded prospect Anthony Gose took Francisco's spot in the lineup in the seventh inning and got two at-bats, including his first major-league hit on a bunt single in the ninth.

With Bautista's 27 home runs and 65 RBI out of the lineup, everyone on the Jays is going to need to chip in to pick up the slack.

"You just have to grind it out, suck this up and hope this gets better," third baseman Brett Lawrie told Toman. "You can't dwell on it. You have to take a big deep breath, and now we have to rely on some other guys to step up. We have to keep on going out and playing—that's all we can do."