TORONTO -- Sitting at his locker inside the Blue Jays' clubhouse at Rogers Centre on Friday, preparing to leave for season-ending surgery on his left foot, outfielder Fred Lewis was not sure where he fell within Toronto's plans for next year.
"I'm a whole lot unsure," Lewis said. "I know that I'm an everyday position player and I don't know what the future holds. I just have to sit back and wait."
On Tuesday, Lewis will be in Birmingham, Ala., where Dr. Angus McBryde will perform bunion surgery on the left fielder's ailing foot. Lewis could still play through the issue, but his sporadic playing time of late convinced him it was as good a time as any to undergo an operation that was in his offseason plans.
Over the past two months, Lewis shifted from an everyday spot in the Blue Jays' lineup to a part-time role off the bench, splitting the playing time in left with Travis Snider. Lewis is not sure that is the type of situation he wants to be in come 2011, though he knows Toronto ultimately will decide his immediate future.
"I know the type of player that I am. I just want to play every day," said Lewis, who is eligible for arbitration this winter. "They can decide to pick up my contract or they can non-tender me. Who knows what they decide? Hopefully I'm back. If I'm not, it's a business."
Lewis, who was under contract for $455,000 this season, said the surgery on his foot will consist of shaving down the bone in his big toe and then having a stabilizing screw inserted. It is a similar operation to the one Lewis had performed on his right big toe in September 2007.
Lewis noted that bunion problems run in his family, adding that the hope is that the surgery should alleviate any future issues. In a best-case scenario, Lewis said the recovery time for the procedure is six weeks, though the outfielder does not think he will begin running again until Spring Training.
The Jays acquired the 29-year-old Lewis from the Giants in a trade on April 15 and made it known from the start the outfielder would be a reserve player. That quickly changed with injuries and Lewis became a regular part of Toronto's lineup only a few days after being fitted for his new uniform.
Between April and July, Lewis performed well -- primarily out of the leadoff spot -- hitting .280 with seven home runs, 27 doubles and 30 RBIs over 84 games. In August and September, Lewis appeared in only 26 games and his production decreased dramatically. Over that span, he hit .202 with one homer, four doubles and six RBIs.
"It's tough to get in a rhythm like that," Lewis said of how he was used over the final two months. "Say for instance you have two good games and then that day off, it messes you up. It was kind of tough getting in a rhythm that way, but it's baseball. You have to stay up and be ready all the time."
Gaston: Bautista worthy of AL MVP Award
TORONTO -- Perhaps he is biased, but given a vote, Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston would cast his ballot for right fielder Jose Bautista in the race for this season's American League Most Valuable Player Award.
That said, Gaston understands that Bautista -- no matter how strong the Blue Jays slugger has been all season long -- will likely have a difficult time taking home the honor.
"I know it's going to be tough for him to get that vote," Gaston said on Friday. "But if I had one, he'd have mine for sure. He's been an MVP for me on this ballclub for sure."
In Toronto's 1-0 victory over Seattle on Thursday, Bautista launched his 50th homer of the season, becoming the 26th player in baseball history to belt as many in a single season. To go along with his 50 blasts, Bautista had 34 doubles, 96 walks, 102 runs scored, 115 RBIs and a 1.005 on-base plus slugging percentage, entering Friday.
In the first inning on Friday, Bautista continued his torrid pace, launching his 51st home run -- a solo shot to left field off Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman.
Beyond his offensive showing, Bautista has proved most valuable in the field. Bautista has manned right field for 105 games (ranking second in the AL with 11 outfield assists), played third base in 48 games and even shifted to first on three occasions.
Gaston believes that part of Bautista's game gets overlooked.
"Absolutely," Gaston said.
Asked why Bautista does not seem to be a favorite for the AL MVP Award -- Texas' Josh Hamilton, Detroit's Miguel Cabrera and New York's Robinson Cano have seemed to garner more support of late -- Gaston said the reason is simple.
"If we had a chance for the Wild Card," Gaston said, "or we were in first place, there'd be no doubt he'd get it, hands down. People have a tendency to vote the other way."
Gaston backed Cano (.320 with 28 homers and 104 RBIs) as the Yankees' MVP this season and added that Hamilton (.361 with 31 homers and 97 RBIs) should not lose votes for missing much of September due to injuries.
"If he deserves it, then give it to him," Gaston said of Hamilton. "He's got numbers where he could certainly be the MVP, too. That team is going to win their division and go on. It shouldn't matter that he's missed that time. He's missed that time and put up better numbers than guys who have played all year."
In the first inning on Friday, Bautista continued on his torrid pace, launching his 51st home run -- a solo shot to left field off Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman. Bautista added his 52nd blast of the year off Tillman in the sixth inning, a two-run shot that pushed the Jays to a 5-1 lead.
Gaston not surprised by Showalter's success
TORONTO -- Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston is not surprised at all by the Orioles' strong play since Buck Showalter was hired as the team's manager at the beginning of August. Gaston believes this is the type of team the Orioles thought they had entering the year.
Since Showalter was hired on Aug. 3, the Orioles have gone 29-18 after opening the season with a 32-73 ledger. Baltimore is still firmly in fifth place in the American League East, but the club only needs two wins in its final 10 games to avoid a 100-loss season.
"That's what they expected," Gaston said. "You could see that they had some good players. ... Coming out of Spring Training, I think they certainly didn't think they were going to play the way that they played. In fact, everybody picked us to finish last I'm pretty sure."
Gaston believes Baltimore's situation was helped by the fact that Showalter's contract runs through 2014.
"They've been playing really well," Gaston said. "It certainly helped that they brought him in and said, 'Here. Here's a three-year contract.' He's going to have [Brian] Roberts. He's going to have [Adam] Jones. He's going to have [Nick] Markakis over there. But the rest of the guys, they don't know where ... they're going to be, so they picked up their boots and started playing a little bit."
Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista entered Friday needing just four walks to reach 100 on the season. If Bautista reaches that plateau, he will become only the 14th player in baseball history to have at least 50 homers and 100 walks in a single season. ... Bautista and center fielder Vernon Wells (29 home runs) have combined for 79 homers this season, representing the fourth-highest total for a Blue Jays duo in team history. Carlos Delgado and Shawn Green combined for 86 homers in 1999, Jose Canseco and Delgado belted 84 combined blasts in 1998, and Delgado and Tony Batista combined for 82 in 2000. ... Wells is one homer shy of becoming the fourth player in team history to record at least three seasons of 30 or more home runs, joining Delgado (eight times), Joe Carter (four times) and Fred McGriff (three times). ... Toronto (133 homers at home) entered Friday one homer shy of the club record for home runs at home (134 in 2000) in one season.
Quote to note
"I showed that in previous years before this, that I was an everyday player. Given the opportunity, you saw it, everybody saw it, so it's there. It's just like [Jose] Bautista. Given the chance, he took it and ran with it, and look at the year he had. I want to be the same way." -- Blue Jays outfielder Fred Lewis