By: Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network
On a Tuesday night in June in 2010, the Blue Jays visited PetCo Park in San Diego.
Manager Cito Gaston wrote Jose Bautista’s name into the lead-off spot.
And now, 2,165 days later Bautista’s name was atop the lineup hanging inside the Blue Jays clubhouse at Target Field Thursday afternoon.
Does this mean Bautista will walk more and try to get on base more often someone asked the slugger?
Bautista laughed. He already leads the American League with 35 walks and has a .374 on-base mark.
A number of veterans suggested the lineup alterations with Bautista the usual No. 3 hitter moving on top, Josh Donaldson staying put at No. 2 spot, Edwin Encarnacion moving to third, Justin Smoak to clean-up and Michael Saunders, who has been sharing the lead-off role with Kevin Pillar hitting fifth. Then, Troy Tulowitzki was sixth followed by Jimmy Paredes, Russell Martin and Pillar.
Bautista said he hoped it would “change the way that teams attacking us.”
After leading the majors with 232 home runs and 891 runs scored last year they are 17th in runs scored and tied for eighth in home runs.
With the move to lead-off Bautista is showing how he values victories ahead of numbers. He won’t get the same RBI chances hitting first and he won’t be behind the defending MVP in Donaldson.
“There are plenty of ways you can dissect it,” said DeMarlo Hale, Jays acting manager filling in for John Gibbons wearing the suspenders for the third and final game of his suspension.
“It boils down to trying to jump-start this offence,” Hale told reporters. “There’s some hitters with some track records that we’re trying to kick-start and maybe put them in some different situations and different mindsets and see how it works.”
It didn’t work too well back in 2010 as Alex Gonzalez had two hits for the Jays, Brett Cecil allowed five runs -- giving up a three-run homer to Aaron Cunningham -- in six innings to fall to 7-3.
Mat Latos and the Padres thumped the Blue Jays 8-2.
Bautista was held hitless in four at-bats with one strike.
TWO STRAIGHT: Jimmy Paredes started at second base Thursday night after collecting two hits, including a homer in Wednesday’s loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.
“He’s a good bat at this point, so run him out there and see if he can give us more offence,” Hale said. “It’s just for the offence, he came in swinging the bat pretty good.”
Hale not knowing how accurate he would be. In the bottom of the first the former Baltimore Oriole clanked a Joe Mauer grounder leading to the Twins first run, which was unearned.
HELP! Second baseman Devon Travis was 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs as triple-A Buffalo Bisons beat the Pawtucket Red Sox 7-5 before 5,090 at Coca-Cola Field. Mississauga right-hander Chris Leroux pitched five innings for the win, while Dustin Antolin picked up the save. Domonic Brown hit a solo homer.
Whitby lefty Evan Grills earned Canadian Baseball Network player of the week honors pitching a complete-game one-hitter in his debut with the Corpus Christi Hooks beating the Frisco RoughRiders 6-0 before 5,973 fans at Whataburger Field.
STEPPING UP: Jays fans raised $268,000 during the broadcast of the Tampa Bay Rays-Jays game Wednesday night as part of the eighth annual Jays Care Broadcast Auction hosted by Sportsnet’s Evanka Osmak. The monies raised in bids to play on the new Rogers Centre infield, a shoe-design experience with pitchers Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez, and the opportunity to follow the Jays on the road will “reduce the opportunity gap for children and youth across Canada.”