Jays step up with Stairs

JODY VANCE

, Last Updated: 7:41 AM ET

Who knew that in order to get a step ahead of the competition the Toronto Blue Jays would need a guy named Stairs?

Matt Stairs, at 39-years old, was considered by many fans to be too far past his prime to help Canada's lone ball club. Admit it, at first blush when you heard Stairs was coming to the Jays you thought, "OK, bring the Canuck here to end his career ... a symbolic gesture at best." Like me you never dreamt that by the break he would be one of the key free -agent acquisitions by the Blue Jays.

Of course we never would have dreamt the St. John, New Brunswick native would have received the playing time to be a significant contributor to a club that seemed "locked in" offensively in spring training.

First, an injury to Reed Johnson forced the 1B/DH/OF into semi-regular action and step up Stairs did.

He went to the next level as he became an everyday player when Lyle Overbay spent time on the DL with a broken hand.

Called to regular duty, all he did was hit .287 with 13 HR's and a 0.894 OPS during the first half. All of those 13 HR's have come since May 13 -- the fifth most in the A.L. over that time frame.

Any GM will tell you the "problem" of having more talent than he has positions is no problem at all.

Come Thursday, and the unofficial start of the second half of the MLB season, expect to see Stairs move from his fill-in role at first to the job he was brought to T.O. to do: Pinch-hitting predominantly with a little DH and the occasional appearance in the outfield to spell off Reed Johnson or Alex Rios.

Given the tumultuous road this 2007 season has been thus far for the Jays, you know the club will take anything to get one step ahead of the competition -- but it is a whole lot sweeter when that step is a guy named Stairs.

Jody Vance is a longtime sportscaster and personality with Leafs TV. Her column appears Tuesdays and Thursdays in 24 hours. 


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