TORONTO - Despite being out of the starting lineup for the second game in a row because of lower back tightness, Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar has been the centre of trade rumours this week.
The Oakland Athletics are the team that is showing the most interest in Escobar.
Escobar has gone through the process once before. In 2010, he was the subject of trade rumours prior to the Atlanta Braves shipping him to the Jays in July of 2010.
The 29-year-old, who is signed through 2013 with the Jays having a club option for 2014, would prefer to stay put.
"Since Day 1 he said he has always felt welcome with this club and that's the way he feels now even though he understands why so many teams are looking at him," coach Luis Rivera said, acting as Escobar's interpreter. "But this is where he belongs. He said he doesn't want to leave, that he's fine here, that this is his team.
"He said all the talk surrounding him doesn't affect him. He feels like when other teams want you, they see something in you that can help their team. As long as there's nothing negative in the press about himself, it's fine that a lot of teams want him."
In a number of reports coming from south of the border, one of the sticking points to a potential deal is the potential bad chemistry that Escobar could bring to a clubhouse.
Those reports are unfair. The Jays have not had any gripes about Escobar's conduct in the clubhouse since his arrival. Atlanta may have been a different matter.
"Unfounded as far as I'm concerned," manager John Farrell said in Escobar's defence. "I can't speculate on where they originate from. (We've had) no problems."
It has been tough sledding for Jays second baseman Kelly Johnson this July.
In the 18 games that Johnson has appeared in this month before Friday, he batted .211 (12-for-57) with four doubles, two home runs and just five RBIs.
His lone multi-hit game in July occurred Thursday against Oakland, when he went 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Johnson had gone 10 games without driving in a run prior to Thursday.
Prior to the game, Farrell gave his reports on the injured Jays.
Jose Bautista (left wrist inflammation) -- "Improving by the day, yet at this point not ready to put a bat in his hand. So, we're probably looking at early next week at this point (before he starts swinging a bat)."
J.P. Arencibia (broken right hand) -- "At this point I believe he'll go back to Tennessee (as opposed to flying west with the team). Just a general conditioning program and he'll go to his home (Nashville) and continue to work out there before reporting to Florida at some point."
Brandon Morrow (left oblique) -- "He threw a light bullpen (Friday) and felt fine. He is set for two innings Sunday (with the class-A Dunedin Blue Jays)."
Drew Hutchison (right elbow) -- "Hutchison began a throwing program (Friday) from 45 feet. He'll play catch again (Saturday). It's two days on, one day off. It's real controlled distances now."