Gaston praises ex-Jays shortstop Scutaro
Manager impressed with veteran's performance in '09
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays have been thrilled with the early offensive production and steady defense of shortstop Alex Gonzalez, who signed with the club over the winter. That does not mean manager Cito Gaston has forgotten about all that Marco Scutaro did for Toronto a year ago.
On Monday, Scutaro was back at Rogers Centre as the shortstop and leadoff man for Boston, which inked him to a multiyear contract this past offseason. One of the main reasons Scutaro was able to reel in a nice deal from the Red Sox was the strong performance he turned in as the Jays' leadoff man and shortstop in 2009.
"I just visited with him a few minutes ago," Gaston said. "He's one of the guys I really, really like and certainly respect. As I told him, it was nice to manage him. Of course, I didn't have to manage him too much. He's such a good player -- a knowledgeable player -- that you don't have to say much or do much with him. They got themselves a good player over there.
"You always wish you could keep a guy like him."
Gaston showing patience with Frasor
TORONTO -- Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston is not about to strip Jason Frasor of his late-inning job out of the bullpen -- not yet, anyway. On Monday, Gaston said he would only consider moving Frasor into a lesser role if the pitcher's month-long struggles persisted.
"If he continues to go like that, maybe I'll think about that," Gaston said. "But I'd like for him to stay where he's at, as far as being the setup guy or the first guy in the seventh inning or the eighth inning. So right now, we'll just kind of leave it that way, and if he struggles, then we might have to do something else."
Coming off a career year in 2009, Frasor opened this season as Toronto's primary closer. Frasor quickly lost that job to Kevin Gregg and has posted a 9.35 ERA over 10 appearances as a late-inning reliever this season. In 8 2/3 innings, Frasor has already issued eight walks -- half the amount he allowed over 57 2/3 innings last year.
Jays pitching coach Bruce Walton said there has not been one specific thing that has served as the root of Frasor's early woes on the mound. Walton said the right-hander's changeup has been good, but hitters have not swung it as often as last year. The pitching coach also confirmed that Frasor's velocity has decreased some.
"His velocity is a touch down," Walton said. "It's not sitting ay 94-95 [mph] like it was last year. You're seeing [it around 91-93 mph]. I don't think it's anything other than at times, maybe [he's] just trying to make too good of a pitch and trying to aim the ball a little bit and not really letting the ball go and trusting it.
"I think that more than anything, when you get in a situation where things aren't going the way you'd like them to go, it does get a little mental. That's just the game. I think the ball gets a little heavier at times and you squeeze it a little bit and I think he's just got to get through it."
Walton added that Frasor has shown no signs that there might be something physically wrong with him. Walton also did not buy into the notion that the issue could be related in any way to working with two new catchers this season (John Buck and Jose Molina) after thriving with former Jays catcher Rod Barajas behind the plate in 2009.
"It's Jason's plan," Walton said. "Whatever plan he had going with Rod, he should have the same plan going with the other catchers. So my thought on that is the onus is on the pitcher. He knows his plan and the catchers are more than willing to execute his plan."
Molina credits pitchers for quick deliveries
TORONTO -- A day after setting a franchise record by throwing out four baserunners, Blue Jays catcher Jose Molina made a point to credit the men on the mound. Molina said the quick moves to the plate have played a major role in robbing would-be stealers.
"The pitchers give me a good chance," Molina said on Monday. "That's the main thing for, not just me, but any catcher for throwing guys out. Holding runners and the way they slide step, have quick feet, that's all them. The pitchers have done everything."
On Sunday, Brandon Morrow was on the hill for Toronto for each of the four throws that Molina used to gun down Tampa Bay's Carl Crawford (twice), B.J. Upton and Sean Rodriguez. Pitching coach Bruce Walton said Morrow's slide step clocks in between 1.20-1.25 seconds, which only helps the catcher.
Walton said the goal for all his pitchers is to fall under 1.3 seconds -- from the moment a pitcher lifts his front foot to the point when the baseball lands in the catcher's glove -- when pitching out of the stretch. Walton said each of the Jays' pitchers are under that mark.
"Brandon did a nice job," Walton said. "He gave Mo a good enough chance to throw those guys out. That's a credit to Mo. He put every throw on the money and he came out of the chute quick. We did our part, but Mo was tremendous every time."
Entering Monday, Molina was tied for the Major League lead with seven runners thrown out. The only other catcher to rob that many runners was Colorado's Miguel Olivo, who had appeared in 97 innings to Molina's 51 for Toronto. Molina had only played in six games, whereas the next three catchers on the list (five caught stealing apiece) -- Minnesota's Joe Mauer, Baltimore's Matt Wieters and Oakland's Kurt Suzuki -- had each appeared in at least 17 games with at least 143 innings behind the plate.
It is not often that hitting for the cycle is overshadowed by another feat on a baseball diamond. On Sunday, though, Triple-A Las Vegas claimed a 14-11 victory over Sacramento in a wild game that was capped off by a pinch-hit walk-off grand slam off the bat of Brian Dopirak. One of the players celebrating the win was infielder Jarrett Hoffpauir, who went 4-for-5 with a walk, single, double, triple and home run in the affair. ... On the season, the Blue Jays have hit just .199 (28-for-141) with runners in scoring position, which ranked 27th in the Majors. Entering Monday's game against the Red Sox, the Blue Jays had no hits in their [ast 20 at-bats with runners in scoring position. ... Entering Monday, Toronto center fielder Vernon Wells was one home run shy of 200 for his career and three homers behind George Bell (202) for third on the club's all-time list. Wells also stood two RBIs shy of matching Bell (740) for second on the club's all-time list.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.