Jose Bautista batting leadoff for Blue Jays for first time since 2010

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Toronto Blue Jays are batting slugger Jose Bautista from the leadoff spot Thursday night in an attempt to jump-start their slumping offense.

Toronto has lost five straight games entering Thursday night's game against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. It's their first five-game losing streak since September 2013.

Bautista last led off for the Blue Jays on June 15, 2010, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He went 0-for-4.

American League MVP Josh Donaldson is batting second, followed by Edwin Encarnacion in the third spot and first baseman Justin Smoak in the cleanup spot.

Bautista has appealed his one-game suspension for making a hard slide into second base on Sunday against the Texas Rangers and for his postgame comments. Rougned Odor punched Bautista in the jaw after the play and was suspended eight games. He also has appealed.

Toronto led the major leagues with 232 home runs and 891 runs scored last season en route to finishing first in the American League East. This season the Blue Jays are 17th in runs scored (168) and tied for eighth in home runs (49) and sit in fourth place in the division with a 19-23 record.

Bautista, like the Blue Jays, has struggled at the plate this season with a .222 batting average, seven home runs and 28 RBIs. Last season he hit 40 homers with 114 RBIs and finished with a .250 average.

Bautista, 35, is in the final season of his current contract and will be a free agent after this season. In spring training he was vocal about his demands for his next contract, telling reporters that he had told the team what his "number" was and wasn't willing to negotiate.