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Toronto Blue Jays batter Jose Bautista stretches during batting practice at their MLB American League spring training facility in Dunedin, Florida February 20, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Cassese (Mike Cassese/Reuters)
Toronto Blue Jays batter Jose Bautista stretches during batting practice at their MLB American League spring training facility in Dunedin, Florida February 20, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Cassese (Mike Cassese/Reuters)

Bautista takes testing in stride Add to ...

Toronto Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista doesn’t have a problem with the excessive random drug testing he said Major League Baseball has required of him over the past two seasons, when he totalled 97 home runs and claims to have had 16 tests.

“I don’t care,” Bautista said Monday, after working out at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium here. “I don’t care how many times they test me.”

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The tests became an issue during the offseason, when a Dominican Republic newspaper, Hoy, quoted an exchange between Bautista and three-time Cy Young Award winning pitcher Pedro Martinez at a dinner given by the country’s president, Leonel Fernandez.

Bautista said he was unaware that their conversation would be reported. When Martinez asked him about testing he noted that he had nine tests in 2010, when he led the majors with 54 homers, and seven last season. He added that he had been tested just three times over the 2008 and 2009 seasons.

He said the tests do not annoy him because he will do whatever asked.

“But it is getting annoying that people keep asking me about it,” said the Dominican, who has never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

MLB administered 3,868 tests on major-league players last year, up 11 per cent. Players are tested twice each season, but can have additional random tests.

Bautista, 31, said he is fully recovered from the neck, knee and ankle injuries that hindered him during the second half of the 2011 season. He batted .334 with 31 homers and 65 runs batted in before the all-star break, but hit .257 with 12 homers and 38 RBIs the rest of the way. Still, he played in 149 games.

“You let your body heal and then I got into the gym again,” Bautista said. “... I was not 100 per cent after the all-star break, but I don’t like to make excuses. Nothing was a major hindrance.”

Bautista said he arrived here Feb. 7 and was enthused about the high number of position players reporting before the first full-squad workout last Saturday. Pitchers and catchers report Tuesday and have their first workout Wednesday.

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