Notes: Move benefits Wells, Jays
Outfielder gaining momentum at plate after rising to leadoff spot
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Blue Jays' experiment with Vernon Wells hitting in the leadoff spot seems to be working out quite nicely.
Wells entered Wednesday night's game batting .333 since the move, a vast improvement over the .244 he was hitting previously, but he says it isn't solely due to his move in the batting order.
"I ended up making some changes around the time the lineup was changed, so I think it's a combination of a lot of things," Wells said. "I've just been trying to work out the kinks, and it's all seemed to work out so far in the leadoff spot."
Wells made some slight changes in his batting stance, but it was some changes to his mental approach that he says helped the most.
"[It's about] just forgetting about what's happened in the past and just go up there and worry about the at-bat that you're in and not think about anything else," Wells said. "Just allow yourself to relax and have a good time and just treat it like it's a game again."
Manager John Gibbons decided to move Wells to the top spot Friday, when Wells was on an 0-for-17 streak at the plate. It's the first time Wells has hit leadoff since 2002.
"He's struggling, and he's in the .240's and .250's. There's a lot of guys who would take that," Gibbons said.
The change also seems to be working for the team as well. Toronto entered Wednesday 4-1 since the switch. With things going so well, Gibbons is reluctant to move Wells back to the three spot, saying he'd be crazy to not leave him at the top of the order.
"You don't mess with the baseball gods," Gibbons said. "I like him where he is right now. We're just going to ride it while it lasts."
But Wells will be happy wherever he's placed in the lineup.
"It doesn't matter to me, I guess. I have a job to do no matter where I am in the lineup," Wells said. "Wherever he puts me, I'm going to attempt to do whatever I can to help this team win."
Overworked: With a strong eight-inning performance out of Shaun Marcum Tuesday night, Gibbons thought his bullpen was going to get some well deserved rest. Unfortunately, the game went 12 innings, and the Jays used four of their relievers.
Gibbons hoped to rest Jason Frasor, who pitched two scoreless innings on Tuesday, on Wednesday.
Gibbons also said he'd try to avoid pitching Casey Janssen, who worked two-thirds of an inning Tuesday.
"He's chalking up a lot of innings and he's a young kid," Gibbons said. "But if you need him, you need him, if it's a chance to win the game."
Homer watch: Frank Thomas entered Wednesday stuck at career home run No. 499 after going hitless in the first two games of the series against the Twins.
"He's just got to get a pitch to hit when he gets out there. I'm sure he'd love to get it out of the way. That would be big, no question," Gibbons said. "But it still comes down to getting a pitch he can do something with."
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he's rooting for Thomas, as long as the home run comes when the Twins have a large lead.
"8-0 or 8-1 in our favor, if he hits one I'll be the first to stand up and clap for him. As long as we're winning and we win," Gardenhire said. "It would be nice for us to get away from him without him hitting a home run. That would be saying we did a lot."
Thomas entered the game with one career home run off Minnesota starter Boof Bonser.
Changes: The Blue Jays planned to make a roster move after Wednesday's game to make room for A.J. Burnett, who will come off the disabled list to start Thursday's game. Gibbons indicated before the game that the move should not affect starter Josh Towers, making Ty Taubenheim the most likely candidate to be sent down. ... Howie Clark made the start at second base on Wednesday and is expected to start at third base in the series finale on Thursday. ... Royce Clayton got the nod at shortstop Wednesday, his first start since June 19. Clayton, who is seeing less playing time in favor of John McDonald, committed an error in the first inning.
Down on the farm: Triple-A Syracuse lost to Charlotte on Tuesday, 4-1. Justin James came on in relief of starter Yusaku Iriki and pitched three scoreless innings. Erik Kratz accounted for the Chiefs' only RBI with a solo home run in the eighth inning. ... Auburn lost to Mahoning Valley, 14-8, on Tuesday after starter Shane Benson and reliever John Tritz gave up 12 runs (eight earned) in the first four innings. Paul Franko went 3-for-4 with a double, a home run and three RBIs.
Up next: The Blue Jays finish out their four-game series at the Metrodome on Thursday. Burnett (5-6, 4.00 ERA) will make his first start since going on the disabled list June 12. Carlos Silva (5-8, 3.98 ERA) takes the hill for the Twins at 1:10 p.m. ET.
Leslie Parker is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.