Cito Gaston is well aware of how his batters have fared against particular pitchers, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the Jays manager is going to alter his lineup, especially not the way it’s performing right now.
For example, Kevin Millar — a right-handed bat off the bench who typically starts at first base against left-handers — has great numbers against Sox righty Jose Contreras, who is starting today. In his career, Millar has hit .429 (9-for-21) with two homers, two doubles and five RBIs against Contreras.
Is Millar in the lineup? Nope.
Similarly, in the last series against Texas, Millar had fantastic totals against righty Kevin Millwood — .390 (16-for-41) with a homer and four doubles. Was he in the lineup that day? No, left-handed hitters Adam Lind (DH), Travis Snider (LF) and Lyle Overbay (1B) were starting in both games.
“I could show you some stats from the last couple of days,” Gaston said. “When we were playing against Texas, you should see the stats that Kevin has against him. I could let Kevin go in there and maybe DH and take Lind out of there, but I’m just going to play it the way we’ve been playing it and see what happens.
“So, it is a decision and I’m aware of those things, too.”
It’s similar to how Gaston treats the pinch hitting scenarios with his club. Late in games, he has been letting his batters stay in the batter’s box, even in situations when it might make sense to play the matchup and go with another hitter. This early in the year, Gaston wants to stick with his players to hopefully build their confidence.
“I haven’t really pinch hit for many guys, if you really think about it,” Gaston said. “I know that all these guys have to stay sharp and they need to be in their hitting. I know that, as a player, if you’re looking over your shoulder you kind of lose confidence in yourself.
“What I want these guys to do — not to say that I won’t [pinch hit ever] — but what I want them to do is feel like every time they come off that field and their at-bat comes up they’re going to get a chance to hit.”
As far as in-game matchups, Gaston prefers for a batter to have at least 20 career at-bats against a pitcher to decide whether it might be beneficial to use him as a pinch hitter. Gaston said his philosophy could change as the year goes on. He also noted that, with so many right-handers coming up, some of the right-handed bats will likely get some starts to stay fresh.
1. Marco Scutaro, SS
2. Aaron Hill, 2B
3. Alex Rios, RF
4. Vernon Wells, CF
5. Adam Lind, DH
6. Scott Rolen, 3B
7. Lyle Overbay, 1B
8. Rod Barajas, C
9. Travis Snider, LF
Starter: RHP Roy Halladay (3-1)
1. Brent Lillibridge, 2B
2. Josh Fields, 3B
3. Carlos Quentin, LF
4. Jim Thome, DH
5. Jermaine Dye, RF
6. Paul Konerko, 1B
7. A.J. Pierzynski, C
8. Brian Anderson, CF
9. Alexei Ramirez, SS
Starter: RHP Jose Contreras (0-3)