The veteran Blue Jays right-fielder took time to handle grounders at third in Saturday's pre-game warmup ahead of an afternoon contest with the Texas Rangers.
Jays manager John Gibbons said while there were no plans to use Bautista at third, the outfielder could step in there if needed. Bautista has played first base, centre field and DH this season as well as right field.
With Brett Lawrie sidelined with a finger fracture, Toronto has been using Juan Francisco at third recently. The six-foot-two 245-pounder came into Saturday's game hitting a combined .191 through June and July. He hit .284 in May.
Bautista was coming off a frustrating night Friday against Rangers ace Yu Darvish and company, going 0-for-4 at the plate. The Jays slugger came into the game 1-for-15 in his career against the tall Japanese right-hander.
Gibbons said Bautista might be pressing a little bit.
"He's just been a little frustrated with some things lately," Gibbons said prior to Saturday's game.
Bautista came into the contest with a .288 batting average and 17 home runs. He had reached base safely in 82 games. But he was hitting .200 in July after hitting a combined .309 through May and June.
Gibbons said Bautista's frustrations included hitting "a couple of bullets that were right at guys" in Anaheim recently.
"There's nothing you can do about it." he said.
The Jays' recent slide has probably not helped his mood either. Prior to Saturday, Toronto had lost three straight, nine of 11 and 18 of its last 26.
The club had won just two of its last 11 completed series (2-8-1) dating back to June 6.
It doesn't get easier with series against the Yankees and Red Sox next.
"We need to play real good baseball. Simply because the last few weeks we haven't," said Gibbons. "We've been very inconsistent. That's just the reality of it.
"We had that little buffer zone (21-9 in May) that just dried up on us. That's gone now. we need to play better than .500 baseball, if we're going to be realistic."
Bautista, meanwhile, is still recovering from a hamstring injury that kept him out seven games before the all-star break.
"it's not ideal. He's still guarding it a little bit," said Gibbons. "He needs to a little bit. But I don't think he's far from 100 per cent."
Gibbons moved Bautista to DH on Saturday to give him a breather.
"We still need him out there," he said.Suggest a correction