Blue Jays activate Bautista off DL

Toronto designates outfielder Lake for assignment

Blue Jays activate Bautista off DL

TORONTO -- The biggest addition for the Blue Jays prior to the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline likely came in the form of Jose Bautista's return to the lineup on Monday night.

Bautista was activated from the 15-day disabled list prior to Monday night's 4-2 victory over the Padres. He played all nine innings in right field and went 1-for-3 with a walk after having been out since the middle of June with turf toe on his left foot.

Toronto will attempt to upgrade its roster prior to the Trade Deadline, but Bautista should have a bigger impact than any of the potential recruits. His arrival means Ezequiel Carrera will go back to the bench, while outfielder Junior Lake was designated for assignment.

"There's always things to deal with," Bautista said. "I can't say I'm 100 percent, but it's definitely something I can manage to play with. And percentages, I know you guys like putting numbers to that, but it's impossible. I can play, and I'm good to go."

Bautista spent the first several weeks following his injury in a walking boot. From there, he gradually increased baseball activities and officially began a rehab assignment with Class A Advanced Dunedin on Wednesday. The veteran slugger appeared in four Minor League games, including three with Triple-A Buffalo, and had two hits in 14 at-bats.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said that the plan is to use Bautista at right field and occasionally at designated hitter until he is completely up to speed.

"I don't feel like it's necessary, but he's the manager," Bautista said of the occasional time off from right. "I can't tell him what to do. He's going to manage the team the way he feels it's best fit. As long as he asks me for feedback, I'll let him know how I feel, and I feel I can play defense every day just like I did at the beginning of the year."

The one positive to take away from Bautista's absence is that the Blue Jays managed to stay within striking distance of first place while he was away. Toronto entered play on Monday night three games back of Baltimore for first and 1 1/2 games back of Boston for second in the American League East.

Once Bautista settles in, he also should be in a good position to finish the season strong. This is the time of the year when fatigue can start impacting a player's performance, but Bautista is fresh after six weeks away and that could spell trouble for opposing teams once his timing is down at the plate.

Lake was designated for assignment to make room on the roster for Bautista. He appeared in 19 games and had seven hits in 34 at-bats. Toronto now has 10 days to either trade, release or place Lake on waivers.

"I'm going to go out there and play baseball," Bautista said. "That's about as honest as I can be. I don't know how to play other than the way I play. There are times you may not want to push it when there's a play that doesn't warrant it, but I'm going out there and make baseball plays."

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.