Darvish faces Jays Monday in T.O.
By MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency
BALTIMORE - The Texas Rangers have made a switch in their rotation plans and set the much-ballyhooed Yu Darvish back a day which means the rookie right-hander from Japan will now be making the start for the Rangers on Monday at Rogers Centre in the first of a three-game set between Texas and the Blue Jays.
The day after manager John Farrell announced that Edwin Encarnacion would be his cleanup hitter for the time being, he shuffled the troops and had a lineup where Adam Lind was batting fourth, Eric Thames fifth and Encarnacion sixth. Steady Eddie was also put out at third base for the first time this season with Brett Lawrie getting a day off from the rigours of the field and was in the lineup as the DH. Encarnacion mishandled the first ball hit his way for an error.
“It’s an alignment that we use. The lineup that we have today is also one that was used three nights ago in Kansas City,” Farrell said. “Edwin will be a middle of the order bat for us but we’re trying to put the best combination together to win a game. I just wanted to stack the lefties in the middle of the order tonight (against right-hander Jason Hammel).”
Eric Thames will never be confused with a Gold Glove candidate but his manager believes he is much improved from the defensive player he was last season. “Overall, he continues to improve and his work is committed to doing that,” Farrell said. “My reference point is a year ago at this time where he was then and where he is now and I think he’s vastly improved because of the time and effort he’s put in with Torey Lovullo (outfield coach). We fully trust him in left field.”
Jose Bautista is off to a slow start as he came into Wednesday’s game hitting .200 with three homers and nine RBIs. He also has gone just 3-for-18 on the current road trip. Given that, the Jays are showing enough strength in other areas to be 10-7.
“We’re still finding our rhythm offensively,” Farrell said. “We’re fourth in the league in runs scored and we haven’t even clicked (offensively) for any stretch of games yet. We’re doing some things to build innings and create opportunities. Runs are still the most important thing and I’d like to think that when the middle of our order becomes a little bit more consistent in the overall production, we’ve got a chance to make some additional noise.”