Bautista seeking offensive rhythm

Bautista seeking offensive rhythm

Bautista seeking offensive rhythm
TORONTO -- Jose Bautista is still looking for the type of consistency at the plate that has made him one the game's top sluggers.

Toronto's right fielder is off to a relatively slow start to the 2012 season by his standards. Bautista entered play Saturday afternoon with a team-worst .183 average but still possesses a respectable .341 on-base percentage.

Those numbers are a far cry from what made Bautista a back-to-back winner of the Hank Aaron Award, and manager John Farrell believes his No. 3 hitter might be pressing at the plate.

"I think that can come from trying to do a little bit too much, overswinging the bat at times," Farrell said. "That's why you see a lot of pitches that he typically squares up, he's fouling off and at times looks like he's overswinging the bat."

Dating back to last year's All-Star break, Bautista is hitting .239 with 15 home runs, 47 RBIs and a .396 on-base percentage in 85 games. He believes most of the issues have stemmed from swinging at pitches out of the zone.

Farrell agreed with that and added that Bautista hasn't had quite the same offensive rhythm the Blue Jays have been accustomed to seeing.

"If you look at the pre All-Star break to now, yeah, there was a more consistent timing in his swing," Farrell said, "one that he continues to search for and maintain. The work he does daily with [hitting coach] Dwayne Murphy is centered around that and yet I think he is seeing an awful lot of breaking balls early in the count and then they elevate fastballs.

"Sometimes there might be a willingness to get that one fastball and think you've got to get it that one pitch and we'll see him foul off some fastballs that are above the strike zone."

Bautista, who last year became the first player since Mark McGwire to lead the Majors in home runs in back-to-back seasons, has a pretty simple philosophy when it comes to turning things around.

"Keep grinding at-bats and swinging at good pitches," Bautista said earlier this week. "I've said it before and I'm saying it again, swing at strikes, that's all I have to do."