Switch sparks Rivera fireworks
By MIKE THOMAS, Special to QMI Agency
TORONTO - After watching the defensive hijinks of Edwin Encarnacion an evening earlier, Jays manager John Farrell started Juan Rivera at first base Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Rays.
It was Rivera’s first game at first for the Jays and only the 14th time he’s played the position in his career — 10 of those as a starter.
While most plays he made were fairly routine, Rivera’s defence was good enough as the Jays beat the Rays 3-2 at the Rogers Centre.
For Farrell it’s a relief to have another option at first base while Adam Lind is on the shelf.
“He looked very natural and very comfortable there,” said Farrell, suggesting the move benefits Rivera as well as the team. “He’s involved more in the game in that position than in left field and I think there was some excitement to his game.”
Rivera also had a strong night at the plate going 2-3, putting Toronto on the board with a solo home run in the second inning and scoring another run on J.P. Arencibia’s go ahead home run in the seventh.
With Lind on the 15-day DL and David Cooper recently sent down to Las Vegas, Encarnacion appeared to be the team’s only option at first after auditioning for the job in spring training.
Having another option in Rivera is encouraging based on the team’s defence of late.
Making his seventh start of the year at first on Wednesday, Encarnacion posted two errors and looked less than stellar on several other plays.
With no real experienced first basemen on Toronto’s roster it looks as if Rivera and Encarnacion will share the duty until Lind returns from a lower back injury.
Although new to the position, Lind has been reliable defensively this season with only two errors in 31 games played.
Farrell said a more in depth look at the Houston Astros’ offence will help determine who starts at first on Friday.