Blue Jays win spring opener
CLEARWATER, Fla.—Jose Bautista hit a long home run off Roberto Hernandez three batters into the game to help the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Philadelphia Phillies 4-3 yesterday in rain-shortened spring training opener for both teams.
Bautista’s home run landed outside of the ballpark at Bright House Field.
“It felt pretty good, I can’t deny that,” Bautista said. “More importantly I felt like I was seeing the ball great.
“I haven’t been playing for a while so that’s a positive,” he added.
Bautista missed the last six weeks of the season with a hip injury, the second-straight year in which he ended the season on the disabled list.
He hit 28 home runs in 2013 after reaching 27 the year before.
He was 1-for-2 with a walk and two runs scored yesterday.
Ryan Howard and Marlon Byrd each had run-scoring singles off former Phillies’ left-hander J.A. Happ in the bottom of the first.
Hernandez, making his Phillies’ debut, allowed two runs on four hits in two innings.
He is the front-runner for the fifth starter’s job after signing a one-year, $4.5-million contract as a free agent this winter.
“When I face him, I try to throw change-ups and sinkers down,” Hernandez said of the home run to Bautista.
“But today I got down in the count and had to throw it down the middle.
“I missed up.”
Happ, meanwhile, struggled in his only inning against his former team.
Although he ended up striking out the side, he gave up four hits and a walk in facing eight batters.
Happ finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2009, when he went 12-4 with a 2.93 ERA.
Happ was 5-7 with a 4.56 ERA in 18 starts with the Blue Jays last season.
Cliff Lee was to make his first start of the spring today, when the Phillies took on the Blue Jays for the second-straight day—this time in Dunedin.
But several Phillies regulars will not be in the lineup, including Howard, Jimmy Rollins, and Chase Utley.
Toronto was to start knuckleball pitcher R.A. Dickey.