July 2009

Game 81: Toronto at New York pregame

Wells2.jpgOne thing that Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston has always done is be upfront and honest with his players, especially when it comes to lineup decisions. Gaston will always talk to his players first and then make a move, and this is something they respect.

I bring this up because Cito had a chat with center fielder Vernon Wells on Wednesday to tell him that the lineup was going to see some changes. The struggling Wells was going to have a day off and then he was going to be pushed down to the lower portion of the lineup.

“He just said some changes are going to be made,” Wells said on Wednesday. “He’s always been straight-up and forward with me. That’s something that he’s been since Day 1. He’s called us in his office and told us how he’s felt about different things. It’s been an open relationship.”

Here at the new Yankee Stadium today, Wells was in the sixth spot for the opener of a four-game all-afternoon set against the Bronx Bombers. Until Wells starts to come around, this is likely where he’ll remain — the same for Alex Rios in the seven hole. Eventually, Wells and Rios could return to the heart of the order. That’s up to them.

“Players do write up the lineup,” Gaston said. “If he starts to swing the bat well, I’ll get him back up that way. You always like to have your speed up there at the top if you can. Hopefully, this will take a little of the pressure off of him and he can just be a little bit more loose and go out and start swinging the bat like he’s capable of doing.”

Closer Scott Downs threw in the bullpen prior to today’s game, testing that pesky sprained big toe on his left foot. Downs said recently that he would love to be activated from the DL this weekend — he’s now eligible. Said Gaston: “I doubt if it’ll be here, but who knows? … We’d love to get him back as soon as we can.” A lot will depend on how Downs feels on Saturday.

Prior to the game, the Blue Jays also announced that Russ Adams had been designated for assignment and David Dellucci’s contract had been purchased from Triple-A Las Vegas. Dellucci will play left field and some DH and Cito is hoping he can add some pop from the left side to Toronto’s lineup. Check bluejays.com later for more on Dellucci.

Today’s lineups:

Thumbnail image for BlueJays.jpgTORONTO BLUE JAYS (42-38)
Fourth place AL East, 7.0 GB

1. Marco Scutaro, SS
2. Aaron Hill, 2B
3. Adam Lind, DH
4. Scott Rolen, 3B
5. Lyle Overbay, 1B
6. Vernon Wells, CF
7. Alex Rios, RF
8. David Dellucci, LF
9. Raul Chavez, C

Starter: LHP Brian Tallet (5-5, 4.47)


 
Thumbnail image for Yankees.jpgNEW YORK YANKEES (45-33)
Second place AL East, 3.0 GB

1. Derek Jeter, SS
2. Johnny Damon, LF
3. Mark Teixeira, 1B
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Robinson Cano, 2B
6. Nick Swisher, RF
7. Hideki Matsui, DH
8. Francisco Cervelli, C
9. Brett Gardner, CF

Starter: RHP A.J. Burnett (6-4, 3.93)

Don’t forget, you can follow me on Twitter: @MLBastian

~JB

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Game 80: Tampa Bay at Toronto pregame

wells.jpgThe Blue Jays’ lineup wasn’t drastically different on Wednesday morning, but manager Cito Gaston did make some noticeable alterations to the local nine.

First and foremost, slumping center fielder Vernon Wells was out of the lineup, given a day off to “clear his head” as Cito put it. Come Friday in New York, Wells will be back in the lineup, Gaston just isn’t sure where he’ll be batting.

“I’ll think about it,” Gaston said. “Give me a couple days to think about it and I’ll see what I can come up with.”

We chatted some with Wells, who once again said he’s as frustrated now as he has been at any point in his career. Asked if about potentially being dropped lower in the order by Gaston, Wells shrugged and had this to say:

“Unfortunately, I haven’t given him a choice,” Wells said. “If you swing the bat, you’re going to be in the position where you’re supposed to be. If you’re not, you’re going to be put in a different position. That’s part of this game and that’s something that, if you’re moved, you’ve got to try to prove that you need to be back in that position.

“It puts it right back on your shoulders and you’ve got to go out and start swinging the bat better and get back to where you’re used to.”

Gaston also shifted left fielder Adam Lind to the third spot of the order — a place previously occupied first by Alex Rios and then by Wells. Rios has struggled and is now batting seventh. Wells will likely be batting fifth or sixth when the Jays open a four-game set against the Yankees on Friday.

“You wouldn’t want him hitting ninth or anything like that,” Gaston said. “I think you have to put him somewhere that certainly he’s not embarrassed or you just put him so low that he’s not getting enough at-bats either. He’s a guy that we need. We need him to hit.”

Going forward, Gaston said that Lind will continue to bat third for the Jays. Shortstop Marco Scutaro and second baseman Aaron Hill won’t be moved out of the Nos. 1-2 spots any time soon, and third baseman Scott Rolen has performed well as the cleanup hitter. Everthing else is up for debate right now.

Today’s lineups:

Rays.jpgTAMPA BAY RAYS (44-35)
Third place AL East, 4.0 GB

1. B.J. Upton, CF
2. Carl Crawford, LF
3. Evan Longoria, 3B
4. Carlos Pena, 1B
5. Ben Zobrist, 2B
6. Pat Burrell, DH
7. Jason Bartlett, SS
8. Gabe Kapler, RF
9. Michel Hernandez, C

Starter: RHP James Shields (6-5, 3.41)

Thumbnail image for BlueJays.jpgTORONTO BLUE JAYS (41-38)
Fourth place AL East, 7.0 GB

1. Marco Scutaro, SS
2. Aaron Hill, 2B
3. Adam Lind, LF
4. Scott Rolen, 3B
5. Lyle Overbay, 1B
6. Kevin Millar, DG
7. Alex Rios, RF
8. Rod Barajas, C
9. Jose Bautista, RF

Starter: LHP Ricky Romero (5-3, 3.20)

Don’t forget, you can follow me on Twitter: @MLBastian

~JB

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