Jays Opening Day lineup not set in stone
By MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency
|Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista waits to hit during warm ups before a spring training game against the Pirates in Dunedin, Florida on March 3, 2011. (STEVE NESIUS/Reuters)
DUNEDIN, Fla. — Opening Day is still 10 days away but the batting order that faced Philadelphia’s Cliff Lee on Tuesday will be almost identical to the one that the Blue Jays will employ on April 1 against the Twins.
There was no secret as to who the players would be, but the batting order was the point of interest.
Against the left-hander Lee, Jays manager John Farrell had Rajai Davis leading off followed by Yunel Escobar, Jose Bautista, Adam Lind, Aaron Hill, Edwin Encarnacion, Travis Snider, Juan Rivera and J.P. Arencibia.
When the Jays line up against Twins right-hander Carl Pavano on Opening Day, the lone switch will be a flip of Encarnacion and Snider.
There it is.
“Provided there’s no other changes and no other injuries, today is kind of looking at that,” manager John Farrell said of his lineup. “That’s not to say at some point in the future we’ll take a different look.”
Farrell said he believes in the continuity of a batting order, but it won’t be chiselled in marble.
“I don’t want to be closed minded to the fact that we may have to make some changes just to give a different look to spark some things in a different way,” he said. “But I think a player is a better player when he knows what’s expected every day when he walks into that clubhouse ... there might be a time where we have to make some changes.”
While the lineup has speed in the leadoff spot in Davis, it is a lineup that still is built on power despite all the talk about finding ways to score other than the home run.
“In spring training we’ve tried to be a little bit more unpredictable, a little more diverse, a little more aggressive on the basepath,” Farrell said. “I like us to score as many runs as possible however that happens. But I think it’s important for us to be equipped to be able to go into a menu of offensive possibilities.
“While there’s an overall approach and an ideal view of how we’d like to play, we have to be conscious of what our roster allows us to do.”
That’s not to say this isn’t a home-run-hitting team and home runs aren’t appreciated.
“Emphatically yes,” Farrell said of being happy to have power. “As we made a very strong emphasis on being opportunistic, it’s never to take the precedent over hit first. (Being dangerous at the plate) is a strength of ours. We’re not going to ask somebody to reduce their strength.”
As a former pitcher and pitching coach, Farrell was asked if has an offensive philosophy.
“I know what’s a pain in the ass to prepare for,” he said. “It’s a team that has the ability to beat you multiple ways. It presses your preparation and you have to be aware of anything at any time inside of a game and that’s not a very comfortable feeling on the other dugout.”