Bautista homers twice for Blue Jays in win
DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP) Jose Bautista never worries about hitting homers during the regular season. He's not about to start during spring training.
The reigning two-time major league home run leader connected for his first two of the preseason, leading the Toronto Blue Jays to a 5-2 victory over the Houston Astros on Saturday.
"It's definitely something I wasn't thinking about. It wasn't really in my head, so it wasn't like I was looking for it," Bautista said.
"Sometimes you have a good swing and hit it hard but it doesn't go up in the air enough and sometimes you do and I just think that's what happened today," he said. "I'm not trying to lead spring training in home runs."
Bautista's two-run drive on a 1-1 pitch from left-hander Zack Duke in the third inning carried far over the left field fence. Travis Snider tagged Duke for a solo shot to left in the fourth inning, also off Duke, and Bautista hit right-hander Jordan Lyles' first pitch to him in the fifth over the 400-foot sign just to the right of the center field batter's eye.
"I thought Zack really threw well," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "A couple of mislocated fastballs. The 1-1 (pitch) to one of the better hitters in the game, a 1-1 pitch he didn't get in."
Duke allowed three runs on six hits in four innings.
Dustin McGowan, who made five September starts last year after missing 2 1/2 seasons due to left shoulder surgeries, made his first spring start, giving up one-hit and one strikeout in two innings.
"For the first time in a long time I (feel normal) and I feel great, getting to pitch every five days now, so I hope that's normal," McGowan said.
Blue Jays manager John Farrell called McGowan's performance outstanding.
"He threw quality pitches for strikes. ... We were interested to see how a normal offseason is going to allow for him to rebuild some strength," Farrell said. "He threw the ball today like he's been throwing the ball all camp. There've been no issues warming up, no issues between innings, anything like that."
Snider is in a duel with Eric Thames for the starting left field spot - and probably a place on the 25-man roster. He said he's been working on trying to be more selective at the plate instead of being a free-swinger and not worrying about whether he'll start the season with Toronto or Triple-A Las Vegas.
"Concentrating on other things I can't control is not going to put me in a position to be successful, mentally or physically," Snider said. "I'm concentrating on each goal each day and going and executing a plan."
NOTES: In their first roster moves, the Blue Jays returned pitchers Scott Richmond and Ryan Tepera, catchers Brian Jeroloman and Carlos Perez, infielder Brian Bocock and outfielder Ricardo Nanita Saturday to their minor league camp. ... Houston will start Wandy Rodriguez on Sunday against Drew Smyly and the visiting Tigers while the Blue Jays will have split-squad games, both against Atlanta. Ricky Romero opposes Sean Gilmartin and the visiting Braves; Toronto starts Kyle Drabek against Tommy Hanson at Orlando.
Updated March 10, 2012