Gaston pencils Overbay in No. 7 slot
Skipper aiming to take pressure off veteran first baseman
TORONTO -- One thing Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston tries to do for his players is create a starting lineup that includes stability. For the time being, first baseman Lyle Overbay can head to the ballpark knowing his name will likely be in the lower half of the order.
The only Opening Day lineup decision that could be considered somewhat unexpected was Gaston's choice of designated hitter Adam Lind as Toronto's fifth hitter. When Spring Training began, the Jays' manager indicated he had been leaning toward handing that role to the more experienced Overbay.
Instead, Overbay's name was moved to the No. 7 spot for Monday's opener against the Tigers. Gaston said the move was based on the first baseman's persistent struggles at the plate this spring. Also playing a role is the fact that the final five spots in the order are not set in stone.
"Lind had a decent Spring Training," Gaston said. "Overbay has been struggling a little bit, and I didn't want to put that pressure on him right away. That lineup there, the first four guys are probably pretty much set in a way. The next five guys could go either way -- it just depends.
"It's just to take a little pressure off [Overbay] right now, and we'll see if he can work his way out of his slump that he's been in most of the spring. He started late in the spring because he had some injuries. Hopefully, he's going to pick it up tonight and get back up there. Lind's certainly qualified to hit in that spot, too."
Overbay, 32, missed roughly the first week of Grapefruit League games while recovering from a trio of hernia operations he underwent over the offseason. In 16 spring games, Overbay hit just .174 (8-for-46) with one homer, four RBIs and 17 strikeouts.
The 25-year-old Lind hit .309 with one homer and nine RBIs in 25 Grapefruit League contests this spring.
For the most part, the first four spots of Toronto's lineup will consist of shortstop Marco Scutaro, second baseman Aaron Hill, right fielder Alex Rios and center fielder Vernon Wells. In no particular order, Lind, Overbay, catcher Rod Barajas, third baseman Scott Rolen and left fielder Travis Snider will occupy the last five slots.
Snider, 21, opens the year in the ninth hole for the Jays, but that could change for the talented rookie. This spring, Snider hit .381 with four home runs and 10 RBIs in 22 games for the Jays. Last season, he hit .279 with 25 homers and 104 RBIs across 157 games between four levels, including a stint with Toronto.
"He will move up if he continues to hit the way he's hit," said Gaston, referring to Snider. "I've left him there [in the ninth spot] and he's been comfortable there. He'll move up in time. Then again, I hope not, because that means everybody else is hitting well. Right?
"There's enough pressure up here with these kids playing -- not that he can't handle it. You've seen him play a lot. He plays like there's no pressure, so that's why this kid is going to be a good player in this league."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.