It wasn't quite time for Escobar
By MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency
|Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar eyes a Reds ground ball at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio, June 19, 2011. (JOHN SOMMERS/Reuters)
BOSTON - In his first lineup draft, Toronto Blue Jays manager John Farrell had Yunel Escobar back in his spot at shortstop against the Red Sox Tuesday. It would have marked his first appearance since being hit in the back of his left hand last Friday in the opening inning of the Jays' game against the Phillies.
But those plans went down the drain after Escobar took his turn in the cage during batting practice prior to Tuesday's game. It was clear Escobar wasn't 100%, so the Jays decided to wait another day and test his hand again on Wednesday.
Taking Escobar’s spot in the lineup was John McDonald. McDonald was originally slotted to play second base, but when Escobar couldn’t go, he moved to short and Farrell opted to go with Mike McCoy at second to give Aaron Hill a day off.
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Farrell’s first lineup that included Escobar had the shortstop hitting fifth and not in his usual leadoff spot.
In the previous two games that spot has been handled by CF Rajai Davis. In those games, Davis has gone 5-for-9 and Farrell sees no reason to move him down in the lineup upon Escobar’s return.
“Rajai’s been swinging the bat well and we all know what he can do when he gets on the basepaths,” Farrell said. “When you look at Yunel and his abilities, not only is his on-base (percentage) very good, his average, his ability to drive the baseball puts him more in an RBI spot. I think it really helps us lengthen our lineup out a little bit more with (Travis) Snider and J.P. (Arencibia) in their respective slots (sixth and seventh, respectively).”
Farrell also decided to slot veteran outfielder Corey Patterson in left and give rookie Eric Thames the night off. Both outfielders bat left-handed. Patterson, though, came into the game 7-for-18 against Red Sox starter Jon Lester, which gave him a decided edge.
Jays RHP Jesse Litsch was shelled in his fourth rehab assignment Monday night, his first start at triple-A Las Vegas. In three innings, Litsch allowed seven runs on 12 hits, didn’t walk a batter and struck out three. He’ll get another start Saturday.
Jays 3B Brett Lawrie, who has a non-displaced fracture in his left hand, is hitting off a tee. From there, he’ll progress to soft test and then batting practice. There is no timetable as to when he’ll face live pitching.