The Jose Bautista wrist injury timeline

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July 16: Jose Bautista fouls off a ball in the eighth inning of a game against the Yankees and immediately grabs his left wrist in pain. The Jays announced after the game that no break was found, that he had an injury to a tendon and that he’d undergo an MRI the following day.

July 17: Bautista is placed on the DL after the MRI revealed wrist inflammation, according to the Jays. Bautista, for his part, called the injury a strain.

“Just as I was finishing my swing I felt something weird around my wrist, and on the recoil is when I felt sharp pain,” said Bautista, who had started all 90 games this season before Tuesday night. “So obviously a little scary at the time. You can’t help but think the worst.

“I thought I had torn something or maybe broken my wrist, but that’s not the case and I’m happy to know that.”

July 28: Bautista resumes swinging bat 12 days after getting hurt. The Jays were initially optimistic that he’d be able to return when eligible on Aug. 1, but they admit now that won’t be ready.

“I don’t want to ever say no, but it still projects to be a few more days than Wednesday,” manager John Farrell said. “But [on Friday], I said it would be Monday by the time he started to swing — and here he is already off a tee. But he is making good progress.”

Aug. 2: Bautista says he’s still experiencing wrist discomfort.

“I’m still ahead of the suggested game plan, according to the hand specialist,” Bautista said. “Their recommendations were initially to not even attempt to pick up a bat for two weeks, and I’m at 16 days and I’m swinging in a cage with some liberty and somewhat of a free feel to my swing.”

Aug. 7: Bautista undergoes followup MRI, leading to a very skeptical blog entry from yours truly.

“He’s still complaining of some soreness in one small area, there’s a recommendation of a follow-up MRI just to compare it to the original MRI,” Farrell told Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. “We’ll have further information once the MRI is complete.”

Aug. 9: The second MRI reportedly reveals no additional damage.

“They didn’t have to do it,” Bautista said. “It’s just more the doctor trying to be cautious before I get the bat back in my hands. What he was thinking was the same thing that came back. It’s just still inflammation, not further damage, so it hasn’t got any worse.

“It’s getting better, but slowly. I would hope that it would be healing quicker, but it’s not. We’re going to just give it a couple more days, then start hitting Monday.”

Aug. 13: Bautista starts swinging again.

“We’re going to go at the pace his tolerance allows,” Farrell said.

Aug. 23: Bautista hits two homers in rehab game.

Aug. 24: Bautista comes off disabled list, goes 0-for-4 in Jays loss.

Aug. 25: Bautista aggravates wrist injury versus Orioles.

Aug. 26: Bautista returns to disabled list.

Aug. 28: The Jays announce that Bautista will undergo season-ending surgery to repair the tendon sheath in his left wrist. He’ll need up to six months to recover.

“We followed the course of action that was recommended at each time during the recovery after the original injury,” Bautista said. “The only way I could have played again this year without having surgery was to do what we did. I tried, there’s just too much instability in that tendon. It got to the point where risking injuring to the tendon was not worth it. That’s why we’re opting to do it now, that way I have plenty of time to be ready for spring training and the season.”

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The Jays never, to my knowledge anyway, straight out lied at any point when discussing Bautista’s injury, but they definitely downplayed the severity of it right from the start. That said, I’m not sure they did anything in how they brought Bautista back. Obviously, if Bautista was told two weeks to swing a bat, he shouldn’t have been back doing it after 12 days. That probably didn’t make a big difference, though.

In the end, this probably worked out for the best. The Jays weren’t going anywhere with all of their injuries this year, and it wouldn’t have done any good for Bautista to try to gut it out over the rest of the season. As long as the main problem here is truly the tendon’s stability in the sheath, it’s nothing that should affect Bautista in 2013 and beyond. Nomar Garciaparra had damage in the same area a decade ago, but his injury was a much more significant split tendon. David Ortiz had a tear in his tendon sheath four years ago and came out of it fine.

Astros vs. Dodgers is a match made in heaven

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A lot of people who work at the league office or who take paychecks from the Fox network probably wanted to see the Yankees and the Cubs in the World Series. They won’t admit it, of course, but I suspect that many did, as the ratings for a Cubs-Yankees Series might’ve broken modern records. If they are at all disappointed by the Astros and Dodgers winning the pennant, however, they should let that go because they’ve been gifted by a wonderful matchup from a purely baseball perspective. Indeed, it’s one of the best on-paper matchups we’ve had in the Fall Classic in many years.

Before the Dodgers went on their late-August, early-September swoon, this was the potential World Series pairing most folks who know a thing or two wanted to see. At least I did, and I don’t think I was alone. It was certainly the matchup which represented the teams with the two best regular season records and storylines at the time. While Cleveland ended up winning more games than Houston did, for the first time since 1970 we have a World Series pitting two 100-win teams against each other.

Like that Orioles-Reds series in 1970, which featured Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Tony Perez, Jim Palmer, Brooks Robinson and a host of other All-Stars, the Dodgers-Astros provide us with an embarrassment of big names and future Hall of Famers. Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw and Astros DH/OF Carlos Beltran are destined for induction already. Astros ace Justin Verlander may very well join them, especially if his late 2017 surge is evidence of a second career peak. Houston second baseman Jose Altuve‘s first seven years and Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen‘s first eight are the stuff upon which Cooperstown resumes are made as well. People will be arguing Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley‘s Hall of Fame case for years once he retires.

Youth is served as well in this matchup, with each club featuring a handful of the game’s best young players to accompany their big name veteran stars.

The Dodgers will bat their no-doubt N.L. Rookie of the Year first baseman Cody Bellinger second or third in the lineup every game. 2016 Rookie of the Year Corey Seager, who sat out the NLCS with a bad back, is expected to be activated for the Series where he’ll be the Dodgers shortstop. The Astros are actually an old team on paper — Verlander, catcher Brian McCann, starter Charlie Morton, first baseman Yuli Gurriel, outfielder Josh Reddick and DH Evan Gattis are all over 30 while Beltran is 40 — but young players are essential to their attack as well. Shortstop Carlos Correa just turned 23 and he’s one of the game’s brightest stars. Third baseman Alex Bregman, also 23, made the play that may very well have broken the Yankees’ back during Saturday night’s pennant clincher. Age aside, the Astros are the product of a major, multi-year rebuild and many of their players are making their first national splash this postseason.

Beyond just the names and resumes, though, the Dodgers and Astros represent a fantastic strategic matchup. The Dodgers attack this postseason has featured admirable plate discipline, with third baseman Justin Turner, right fielder Yasiel Puig and center fielder Chris Taylor all letting balls out of the zone pass them by while abusing pitches left out over the plate. Astros pitchers not named Justin Verlander, however, have lived by getting the opposition to chase bad balls. Game one starter Dallas Keuchel did this by relying on his very fast sinker. Lance McCullers pitched well starting Game 4 of the ALCS and pitched spectacularly closing out the final four innings of Game 7 mostly by virtue of his curveball, which Yankees pitchers could simply not lay off. Indeed, his final 24 pitches of Game 7 were all curves, many of them low and away. Who will give in first in this series?

On the side of things, Dodgers relievers have made a living by pumping in strikes. Particularly strikes high in the zone from Jansen and Brandon Morrow. There may be no better fastball hitter in all of baseball than Jose Altuve, however, and the team as a whole was one of the best in the bigs in dealing with gas in the zone. This was a big reason why the Astros struck out less than any team in baseball this year while simultaneously boasting the best offense in the game. The Dodgers throw strikes. The Astros make you pay when you throw them strikes. Again, something’s gotta give.

Maybe the suits in New York wanted the Yankees and Cubs. But everyone else is getting exactly what we want: a matchup of the two best teams in the game. A matchup of strength against strength. What is, from a purely baseball perspective, the best World Series we could’ve possibly hoped for.