By Evan Brunell
Jose Bautista will temporarily move from right field to third base, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulous announced, according to Sportsnet.ca.
Toronto has been trying to get by at third with an amalgam of Jayson Nix, Mike McCoy and John McDonald, but both players simply aren't hitting. As a result, the club decided to call up outfielder Eric Thames, demote McCoy and shift Bautista to third,.
Toronto has been stumbling as of late, and starting pitcher Ricky Romero was none too pleased about that, saying the offense needed to step up. He later clarified his comments to the team, but it is clear that something needed to change. Now, Toronto is making a bid to get some more offense in the game with Thames, who already made his major-league debut earlier this season in a stint from mid-May to the first of June. The 24-year-old will be playing in left and right field along with DHing in the hopes he can spark the team.
Thames (pictured) was tearing Triple-A apart. While the Jays' Las Vegas affiliate plays in a hitter's league, Thames was still mighty impressive with a .352/.423/.610 mark in 241 plate appearances, cranking seven home runs and knocking 25 doubles. He also has a modicum of speed, as his five stolen bases (two caught stealing) indicate. Overall, it's a fine gambit for Toronto in the hopes of creating offense; while the Jays rank ninth in baseball in offense, only three other AL teams are head of the Jays. It's just their luck that the top two teams in offense are in the same division.
For Bautista's part, he last played third in 2010, playing 48 games, with a career 357 appearances at the hot corner. While his defensive numbers at third indicate he is below average, he's livable there provided Thames comes in and hits, but he will need a few days to adjust to the spot, Anthopoulous said.
Part of this move may be predicated on Brett Lawrie's fractured hand. Lawrie, the team's top offensive prospect, was on the verge of a call-up when he took a pitch off a hand in a Triple-A game. Originally thought to be a bruise, it instead revealed itself as a fractured hand. Thought to be out only a couple weeks, Lawrie now doesn't project to return to the lineup until August as he is still having trouble gripping a bat properly.
For those wondering why Thames got the call over Travis Snider, who was demoted to the farm at the end of April, the projected long term left-fielder is hobbled by a concussion. A MRI came back clean, so he should return to action before long.
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