'Tis a Mystery

With the way things have been going lately, it’s hard to not to question things you hear around Blue Jays camp — blame the B.J. Ryan "back injury" thing if you want to point to something specific. Take a scenario within Sunday’s 2-1 loss to the Devil Rays, for example.

Toronto was trailing Tampa Bay, 1-0, heading into the eighth inning. The Devil Rays — void of any left-handers in the bullpen — called up righty Brian Stokes to face Jays catcher Jason Phillips (righty), who was leading off the inning, followed by Ryan Roberts (righty) and Adam Lind (lefty). Jays manager John Gibbons called for a pinch hitter: John McDonald, who bats from the right side.

On the bench, presumably, was right fielder Alex Rios — Toronto’s leader with seven home runs who has gone 7-for-17 on the current homestand. McDonald, on the other hand, had never faced Stokes and was 1-for-his-last-25 at the plate. Also on the bench was a left-handed option in Jason Smith if Gibbons wanted to play the percentages.

McDonald promptly grounded out to the pitcher, Roberts (no hits in three games this year and filling in at third for the injured Troy Glaus) flew out to center, and Lind grounded out to second base. Again, Rios or Smith were presumably available to pinch hit for either McDonald or Roberts.

Afterward, when Gibbons was asked why he decided McDonald was the man for the situation, he replied:

"I’ve got my reasons. You don’t need to know everything. I had my reasons. I just chose to do it that way at that time."

With the way Toronto’s clubhouse has been transformed into an infirmary, it was easy to question whether or not that meant something was wrong with Rios. Before and after the game, though, Gibbons insisted Rios was fine. It was merely a day off for the right fielder. Toronto’s manager also said there was nothing wrong with Phillips.

So, in almost comedic fashion, a pack of us reporters waited in the clubhouse for Rios to finally emerge so we could get his take on the situation. When a team official approached Rios to tell him the media wanted to talk to him, he looked absolutely puzzled.

Everything OK?

"Yeah, I’m fine."

Could you have pinch hit in that situation?

"Of course."

Do you have any idea why you weren’t playing?

"I have no clue. Day off, I guess."

OK, that’s that. Gibbons had his reasons.

GLAUS UPDATE: After the loss, Glaus said he was "feeling better" after re-injuring his left heel on Friday, and Gibbons said the third baseman might just avoid a second DL stint after all. Toronto doesn’t need to make a roster move until Tuesday, when it needs a replacement starter for the injured Roy Halladay.

7 Comments

I was wondering why Rios wasn’t used at all tonight, the team was clearly not performing well offensively tonight so why would Gibby sit one of the hottest hitters in recent games ? it didn’t make sense to me. A lot of ppl on Mike Wilners show questioned the removal of Shaun Marcum when he had a no hitter going, but I was more upset with Rios not being used.

Its understandable why Marcum was taken out…He was amazing to say the least but the last thing the Jays need is another injury so responsibly they took him out to protect his arm. Let him build up to normal starter expectations of 100 plus pitch count over a few starts. Besides who knew Frasor would give up a crucial run. Oh ya I forgot eveyone did. The thing I dont understand is why they keep using Frasor when he has given up so many game deciding runs in the recent past. Stop using Frasor…everytime he goes out Im at the edge of my seat wondering not if but when hes going to blow it. Clearly he cannot handle high stress situations…at the very least dont use him when one run can make or break a game. Have they learned there lesson yet? And by the way has anyone heard of Brandon Leagues progress…is there any chance he might be ready in the near future…the Jays need him desperately.

I heard a report that League is close to having season ending surgury.

i am a bluejay fan ever since they started, but watching them now is discourageing i think hillenbrand was right when he said they don,t know how to win, last game why not use rios in pinch hit i think they should have a look at gibby, before the year is lost,

The year is lost. That’s why they will not be moving Gibby until after the season is over.

The season is lost? We’re a month and a half in. Please think before you get all whiney and pessimistic.

Fairweather fans like this bug me.

And I love Gibbons, I’m sure he had perfectly good reasons for not hitting Rios. For all we know Rios was not telling the complete truth either. And not hitting Smith is a no brainer. When you strike out as much as he does you are all but useless. That would be why he was designated for assignment.

Jeff Blair and Mike Wilner were speculating that the reason Rios was not used was because of a possible benching (disciplinary action). Towards what exactly was not said, but it was an interesting point.

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