Blue Jays' Rivera running dry on bench

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:36 PM ET

The Vernon Wells deal saved the Blue Jays a wad of cash. Good thing. Because otherwise it has been a bit of a dud.

Toronto got catcher Mike Napoli and outfielder Juan Rivera from the L.A. Angels in the deal. Napoli never played a game before being dealt for reliever Frank Francisco, who was on the disabled list until this week.

Rivera has gone from an everyday right fielder to everyday bench-warmer; from fresh start to frustrated. “I know he’s frustrated. He’s said as much,” manager John Farrell told reporters prior to the Yankees-Blue Jays game Wednesday. “Sometimes things don’t go quite as you’d expected.”

Both the Jays and Rivera had expectations he would play every day after hitting 40 homers in two seasons with the Angels. But his defence was questionable, and with Jose Bautista back in right field and Edwin Encarnacion looking comfy as the DH, Rivera has become mostly a spectator; hitless in his past 13 at bats entering play Wednesday.

Farrell said his timing at the plate is inconsistent, resulting in just four hits (all singles) in 39 at-bats this season.

“We’re still going to find opportunities to get him in there,” Farrell said. But this is not the scenario the Blue Jays or Rivera anticipated.

“The expectation of him playing every day was there,” Farrell said. “Every player knows there will be opportunity but also that production and performance begins to factor in.”

And, both of those have, at least temporarily, deserted Rivera.

HIGH OCTANE

It’s a little early to be talking all-star, but Yunel Escobar is doing a fine imitation of a young Tony Fernandez.

Going into play Wednesday, he ranked first among American League shortstops in runs with 11 and was second in hits (17), batting average (.315), on-base percentage (.391) and slugging percentage (.537).

In 14 starts this season he had reached base safely in 13.

MINOR MATTERS

Brad Mills continues to look good in triple-A Las Vegas with a four-hitter through eight innings in a 4-0 win ... OF Eric Thomas is batting .434 with 11 extra-base hits in 13 games at Vegas.

RUN FOR IT

Toronto came into play Wednesday ranked second in the majors with 23 stolen bases, behind only Kansas City (24).

That’s the most by any Blue Jays team through 17 games other than the 1983 club which had 27.

“This is still a hit-first organization. This is just an added layer,” Farrell said of the team’s major-league high 29 stolen-base attempts. “Advance scouting (by other clubs) may take some of that (running game) away in the future ... (but) at least we have added another component to our game.”


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