CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) - Jose Bautista looks primed for another big season.
The Toronto Blue Jays' slugger had three doubles and two RBIs in a 7-6 victory over a Philadelphia Phillies split squad Saturday.
Bautista, who led the majors with a team-record 54 home runs last year, continued his torrid spring as the regular season nears. He's batting .396 (19 for 48) with three homers and 13 RBIs in 17 games.
``I'm ready,' said Bautista, who signed a $65 million, five-year contract last month. ``I had pretty decent at_bats, I swung at strikes, laid off bad pitches. I actually didn't swing the bat as well as I would have liked, but I found some holes. I'll take it.'
Bautista's first two hits accounted for two of the five doubles the Blue Jays hit off Philadelphia starter Kyle Kendrick in the first three innings. Adam Lind and Bautista hit consecutive two-out doubles in the third to put Toronto up 3-0.
Kendrick was pulled in the fifth. He allowed three earned runs in 4 1-3 innings.
``He was up and left a lot of them over the plate,' Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said of Kendrick, who also struck out two and walked none. ``He threw some decent changeups at times. But he can't live in the middle of the plate - not many guys do.'
The 26-year-old Kendrick is making the transition from starter to reliever. After making 31 starts with the Phillies in 2010, he moved to the bullpen when the team signed free agent Cliff Lee to round out a rotation stacked with aces.
``I don't mind it, but I think the stuff I have, and since I've shown I can start, I'm an innings eater, I think I can be a starter,' Kendrick said. ``This is just hopefully a detour and I can go back to starting whenever that may be. But as of now, just be ready to go and get outs out of the bullpen.'
Former Mets second baseman Luis Castillo made the most of his fourth game in what amounts to a weeklong tryout with the Phillies. The 35-year-old Castillo, signed to a minor league contract on Monday, went 2 for 4 with a walk and two runs scored.
After going 0 for 8 in his first two games, Castillo has reached base in six of his last nine plate appearances. In the field, he made a nifty, backhand stab on a ball that deflected off Kendrick, but also made an error on a play to his left.
``The old saying is you don't like to gauge a guy on spring training performance. I like to look at his history and know where he came from,' said Philadelphia bench coach Pete Mackanin, who handled managing duties in the home half of a split squad. ``He looks like he's in good shape to me. He's under the gun, he's probably pressing to make the club. He knows what the parameters are. ... I haven't seen enough of him to give an honest opinion.'
NOTES: Philadelphia RF Ben Francisco went 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI. Francisco, who will replace departed free agent Jayson Werth in right field to begin the season, is hitting .373 this spring. ... Phillies 3B Placido Polanco saw team physician Dr. Michael Ciccotti and said he has inflammation in his left elbow. Polanco returned from a 10-day layoff on Thursday after hyperextending the elbow on March 15. He is expected to play Sunday against Atlanta. ... Philadelphia outfielder Domonic Brown expects to get the brace off his right hand next week. Brown had surgery after breaking his hamate bone March 5. He said he'll likely start swinging in a couple of weeks. ... The Phillies cut their roster by two, optioning right-hander Scott Mathieson and lefty Mike Zagurski to minor league camp. ... Blue Jays right-hander Jesse Litsch was back in camp and feeling well after being hospitalized Friday night because of dehydration. Litsch gave up four runs and 11 hits in 4 2-3 innings of an 11-8 win over Boston on Friday night.
The Associated Press News Service
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