Jose Bautista set to begin minor league rehab assignment

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Jose Bautista is finally on the verge of returning from his wrist injury following several setbacks, as John Lott of the National Post reports that the Blue Jays slugger is ready to begin a minor-league rehab assignment.

Bautista took batting practice Saturday and Sunday, saying afterward that his wrist is “100 percent” healthy. He’ll play a few games in the minors and potentially come off the disabled list Friday, explaining: “If I feel good, I’ll request to come back as soon as possible.”

He’s been out since July 16, as the injury derailed a hot streak that saw Bautista hit .279 with 22 homers, 50 RBIs, and a 1.021 OPS over a 58-game stretch after carrying a .177 batting average into mid-May.

Video: J.D. Martinez hits league-tying 23rd home run

Seattle Mariners v Boston Red Sox
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The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.

In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.

The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.

Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.