Kelly Johnson, Yunel Escobar return to Blue Jays lineup
By MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency
|Yunel Escobar of the Blue Jays (MARK BLINCH/Reuters files)
Back in the starting lineup Monday were second baseman Kelly Johnson and shortstop Yunel Escobar.
Escobar did not play Sunday due to a sore left elbow, the result of having been beaned by Yankees pitcher Ivan Nova in the previous game. For the previous five games, Escobar had been batting fourth but on Monday he was slotted fifth with first baseman David Cooper batting cleanup for the second consecutive game.
Escobar is hardly a cleanup type of hitter but had been spotted there due to the rash of injuries to the Jays' everyday players. The right-handed hitter was pressing in attempting to add some protection to Edwin Encarnacion. Batting fourth, he had gone 3-for-24 (.143) in six games with zero extra-base hits and just two RBIs.
The left-handed hitting Johnson, meanwhile, batted second.
"I'm trying to break up the right-handers and the left-handers and he's (Cooper) been swinging the bat consistently in the times he's been here," manager John Farrell said. "I'm just trying to find some quality combinations and build them in."
In 13 games since being recalled from Las Vegas, Cooper is batting .267 (12-for-45) with four doubles and two home runs.
Outfielder Jose Bautista, who is on the DL with a strained left wrist, took some swings in the cage and after some dry swings, if he felt comfortable enough, he was also planning on hitting off a tee. Bautista has been out since July 17.
"We're going to go at the pace that his tolerance allows," Farrell said. "I don't have a target date for his return."
LEADER OF THE PACK
Of the young trio of infielder Adeiny Hechevarria, outfielder Moises Sierra, and outfielder Anthony Gose, Sierra clearly is having the most success at the plate.
On Sunday, Sierra had his second three-hit game and over his initial 10 games with the Jays he was hitting .345 (10-for-29). Gose has had more playing time — 18 games — but he entered play last night hitting just .194 (12-for-62) while Hechavarria had gone 2-for-20 (.100) in his first seven games.
"Not to paint all with a broad brush, but you don't fully know what to expect when they come up for the first time," Farrell said of young players.
Gose had a particularly tough afternoon on Sunday, striking out out in all four of his at-bats. In his 62 at-bats, he has struck out 27 times.
"He's had difficulty with some off-speed pitches, breaking ball and changeup from right-handers," Farrell said. "He's learning on the job and there's been a willingness by the opposition to attack him. If he's not getting a fastball early in the count to square up, if it's a foul ball or a take, then they can go to their secondary pitches. The book gets out pretty quick."