Notes: Clayton wants more playing time
Veteran infielder talks with Gibbons, GM Ricciardi on Sunday
TORONTO -- Royce Clayton walked off the field during batting practice on Sunday, had a brief conversation with Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, and then headed back into Toronto's clubhouse.
Inside, Clayton sat down with general manager J.P. Ricciardi to discuss his recent lack of playing time. It's been a difficult adjustment for the veteran shortstop, who has spent most of his 17 big-league seasons as an everyday player. Lately, Clayton has watched John McDonald garner most of the action at short for Toronto.
"I went to talk to him because I just wanted to know where I stood," Clayton said. "I wouldn't say he hasn't been honest with me -- he has. When I talk to J.P., he basically puts things pretty clear cut."
Recently, the Blue Jays have been content on handing more starts to McDonald because he's been playing well. In the first seven games this month, the 37-year-old Clayton made five starts for Toronto. He's made only four starts in the 14 games since, and Clayton hasn't been in the lineup for each of the past five games.
"He's doing something every day that's helping us win a game," Gibbons said about McDonald. "He's on a roll right now -- how can I not put him in there? If I didn't put him in there, he'd ask me how come he isn't playing, wouldn't he?"
Clayton has asked, and he understands the answer he's received. McDonald has hit .333 this month, while Clayton has posted a .207 average in June. For the season, McDonald has a .291 average, which has been an upgrade over Clayton, who has hit. 236. Toronto is simply playing the hot hand.
"At this point in time, Johnny Mac is playing well," Clayton said. "They've got to roll with it. I've been through this a number of times and these things play themselves out. I'll just be prepared when I'm called upon."
That doesn't mean it's not a difficult adjustment for Clayton, who signed a one-year deal worth $1.5 million with the Jays in November. He's played in at least 130 games in 11 of his last 14 seasons, and Clayton isn't sure if he's ready to be relegated to a bench role.
Clayton is willing to wait things out in order to see if he'll be be given the chance to have a streak similar to McDonald's. If he doesn't get the opportunity to be an everyday player again, Clayton said he may have to weigh whether or not he wants to continue playing beyond this season.
"That's a question I have to ask myself," Clayton said. "Everybody, at some point in time in their career, you've got to ask yourself that question. I'll just take this situation as a parameter to see if I want to do that."
Burnett watch: Gibbons said that right-hander A.J. Burnett, who is on the disabled list with a shoulder injury, is scheduled to throw off a mound in a bullpen session on Monday. All indications are that Burnett will be able to be activated from the DL as planned to start on Thursday against the Twins.
Gibbons said the club hasn't decided if right-hander Ty Taubenheim, who made a spot start on Saturday, will be the automatic choice to head back to the Minors to clear room on the roster for Burnett. The Jays may wait to see how starter Josh Towers pitches on Wednesday before making a decision about the rotation.
Overbay update: Toronto first baseman Lyle Overbay said that he plans to begin hitting off a tee with a fungo bat on Tuesday in Minnesota. Overbay added that he will slowly build up to taking batting practice again -- something he hopes to do on the upcoming road trip. The first baseman has been sidelined with a broken right hand since June 3.
Chacin throws: Toronto left-hander Gustavo Chacin played catch on flat ground again on Sunday and could pitch off a mound in a bullpen session some time during the upcoming road trip, according to Gibbons. If everything goes according to plan, Chacin could rejoin Toronto's rotation by the end of July.
Lineup notes: Gibbons opted to give third baseman Troy Glaus the day off on Sunday against Colorado. Utility man Howie Clark started at third and hit eighth for the Blue Jays. ... Vernon Wells was slotted into the leadoff spot for the third straight game against Colorado, and the center fielder belted a three-run homer in the third inning.
Quotable: "I haven't been able to go out and do what I've done, which is play every day. So, am I going to be at my best like that? Absolutely not. Can I get used to it? That's yet to be determined. That's what I'm trying to figure out." -- Clayton
Coming up: Toronto ace Roy Halladay (8-2, 4.08 ERA) is slated to take the mound when the Blue Jays face the Twins at 8:10 p.m. ET on Monday at the Metrodome. Minnesota will counter with righty Kevin Slowey (2-0, 4.43 ERA).
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.