Keeping Overbay in lineup paying dividends
First baseman rediscovering stroke after rough start to year
TORONTO -- Since the beginning of the season, the Blue Jays have made a commitment to playing veteran first baseman Lyle Overbay on a full-time basis.
"We certainly made a commitment for him to play this year," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said on Tuesday. "That comes from [general manager Alex Anthopoulos] and myself -- he's got to live up to that."
While Overbay has by no means lived up to those minimal expectations -- hitting .183 with only nine RBIs heading into Tuesday's contest against the Red Sox -- the move to keep Overbay in the lineup finally appears to be paying dividends.
Since Friday, when the Jays opened up a three-game series with the Rays, Overbay has temporarily silenced critics by going 6-for-12, with two home runs and six RBIs -- four of which came on Monday night.
"Well, I hope that it keeps him going," Gaston said. "That's encouraging to see him do what he did, and hopefully that gets his confidence back."
Despite the bulk of Overbay's production coming in his past three games, Gaston wanted to remind skeptics that defense remains an integral part of the game.
"We've played 20 games now and have won 10," Gaston said. "I can go back and really remember that Lyle has probably helped us win three or four of those games. He's done his part, and it might not seem that way, because he hasn't hit as much as we would like to see him it."
One of the reasons Toronto has stuck with Overbay through thick and thin is that this season represents a critical opportunity for the 33-year-old veteran.
"The kid is going to be a free agent this year," Gaston said. "To bury someone and not let him play when he is about to be a free agent, that's not the right thing to do. We believe that he deserves a chance to go out and if not play here, play somewhere else."
Snider's production seeing dropoff
TORONTO -- Front offices across Major League Baseball walk a fine line when it comes to managing young players. On one hand, it has to do what's best for the team, and on the other hand, management has to ensure that the player is getting ample playing time at an appropriate level. The two often don't coincide.
Unfortunately for the Blue Jays and outfielder Travis Snider, this is a situation they are currently facing.
Going into Tuesday's game against the Red Sox, Snider was batting .133 with only four RBIs. While Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston has noted improvements in Snider's performance from his rookie campaign last season, he believes it is important for Snider to not get discouraged -- often meaning a trip to Triple-A Las Vegas is in order.
"He's looked better than he has last year, to be honest," Gaston said. "He's making better contact and he's played better in the outfield. I think he's pressing a bit right now, because he's not doing what he'd like to be doing and he's not doing what we hoped he would do."
Gaston continued by emphasizing just how tough the balance can be.
"We don't want him to get so pressed he's going to lose his confidence, but on the other hand, we don't want to keep him here if he's going to sit on the bench either," Gaston said. "He's just 22 years old, and if I'm not mistaken, [Adam] Lind didn't find himself until he was 24.
"There is still a lot of baseball left in this kid, and we're going to keep our eyes on him and make sure he doesn't get too far on the other side [of the confidence barrier]."
Blue Jays monitoring injured players
TORONTO -- While the injury bug struck the Blue Jays early this season, it appears not to be as serious as first anticipated.
Starting pitcher Brian Tallet -- on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 18 with left forearm soreness -- underwent an MRI in St. Petersburg over the weekend, revealing no structural damage. According to manager Cito Gaston, Tallet will be evaluated on a day-to-day basis before resuming regular baseball activities.
"He's going to be a while," Gaston said. "He's going to rest it on and off for a bit, and then hopefully he can start throwing again. I'd say he'll be back in two or three weeks."
Third baseman Edwin Encarnacion, who has been on the 15-day DL since April 15, has already begun playing extended spring games at the Blue Jays' Minor League complex in Dunedin, Fla., serving as a designated hitter. He also participated in throwing activities from 60 feet.
Encarnacion will to return to the lineup probably in a week or two, said Gaston.
"He's still sore and will have to play a bit to get himself in shape," said Gaston. "The kid missed Spring Training. His arm wasn't in shape, that's all it is."
Blue Jays starting pitcher Marc Rzepczynski, who was expected to crack the starting rotation this season, is still rehabbing in Dunedin from a fractured middle finger on his pitching hand. The injury occurred in his final Grapefruit Leage start against the Yankees on March 30. He has been on the 15-day DL since April 5, with no immediate timetable for his return.
They may be on separate teams, but Blue Jays starting pitcher Dana Eveland and Red Sox starter Josh Beckett made history together Monday night. Beckett yielded eight runs on nine hits over three-plus innings, while Eveland allowed seven runs on eight hits over three-plus frames. It was only the second game since 1900 in which each starting pitcher lasted three or less innings while allowing eight or more hits and permitting at least seven earned runs. The other contest was between the Rangers and Angels on Sept. 19, 2008. ... Blue Jays outfielder Vernon Wells, who has swung a hot bat all season, will look to continue his success against the Red Sox on Tuesday, whom he has hit a Major League-leading 27 home runs against since 2002.
James Hall is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.