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Jays’ Bautista expecting to return on Tuesday

Toronto Blue Jays' Jose Bautista watches his solo home run against the Philadelphia Phillies during third-inning baseball game action in Clearwater, Fla., Mar. 3, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Jose Bautista is expecting to return to the Toronto Blue Jays lineup on Tuesday for the start of a three-game series at Detroit against the AL-champion Tigers.

The slugging right-fielder was out of the starting lineup for a third straight day Sunday as he tries to let the right ankle he sprained Thursday night recover. With an off-day on Monday, the decision was made to exercise caution again, although like he was Saturday, he was available to pinch-hit if needed.

“Running is what bothers it the most,” Bautista said after an impressive batting practice session that included four home runs in six swings. “When you sprain your ankle, at first it hurts to walk, then when you feel better walking, then running, let alone jumping and all the other things that we’re required to do on the field, it makes no sense to go out there and irritate it, especially with a day off (Monday).

“We’d rather play it safe and let it rest so I can come back Tuesday and be 100 per cent ready to go, as pain-free as I can be. I probably won’t be 100 per cent pain free, but close to it. … If I play today, there’s no way I can be 100 per cent. It makes no sense for me to go out there and kind of half-ass it.”

Manager John Gibbons said Bautista might be ready to play right field Tuesday rather than just DH, but Bautista was less certain of that, saying “I’d like to wait and see how I react to taking fly balls in right field during BP.”

Either way, “if it keeps progressing the way it is, I feel comfortable enough saying I should be in the lineup.”

Bautista turned his ankle stepping on first base while trying to avoid a double play Thursday night, beating out the relay and allowing Jose Reyes to score an insurance run in the eighth inning of a 10-8 win over Cleveland.

The pain has gradually subsided, but still remains.

“Makes no sense if I go out there and re-aggravate it today going into a day off when I could just let it rest for two more days and be pain-free,” said Bautista. “I mean it hurts, still, it’s not like I’m just babying it. … If I play in a game and have to make a sudden move or try to run out a ball and your instinct takes over, I might end up making it worse. Nobody wants that.”