Barajas back in lineup, behind plate
Veteran catcher avoids trip to DL after tweaking hamstring
TORONTO -- The lineup card hanging inside the Blue Jays' clubhouse on Monday afternoon had Raul Chavez penciled in as the starting catcher. Out on the field, Rod Barajas ran the bases, testing his sore right hamstring with the hope of getting back behind the plate.
Shortly after Barajas headed back inside and indicated that a trip to the 15-day disabled list was not necessary, Toronto decided to put the veteran catcher back in the lineup. Barajas was slotted into the ninth spot of the order and given the go-ahead to catch ace Roy Halladay in the pitcher's first start since being activated from the DL.
"He's going to be able to play," said Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston, referring to Barajas on Monday. "We'll play him today and try to play him every other day just to make sure it doesn't go too badly. Maybe sometime we can give him two days off, but it's better to have him than not to have him. We're just going to kind of watch him and hopefully nothing happens."
On Friday night, Barajas tweaked his right hamstring while running the bases on a single in the second inning of Toronto's 6-1 win over Philadelphia at Rogers Centre. Backup catcher Raul Chavez took over for Barajas and started in place of the injured catcher in each of the past two games.
Barajas has appeared in 63 of the Blue Jays' 78 games, but Gaston said he doesn't believe the heavy workload played a role in the minor injury. Barajas received a day off on June 21 due to a sore right hamstring, and he dealt with a similar issue toward the end of last season.
"He always had a day off a week, sometimes two days off," Gaston said. "He's played a lot, but last year at the end of the season he had a little bit of a problem with that. It might be just something that's just popping back up. If he gets back real healthy and strong, I'll try to give him an extra day off from now on."
Entering Monday, Barajas was batting .266 with seven home runs and 37 RBIs, helping the Jays' pitching staff to a 4.07 ERA when behind the plate. Gaston has also been impressed by Chavez, who entered Monday hitting .269 with two homers and seven RBIs in 21 games. Chavez had a 4.83 catcher's ERA, but threw out would-be base stealers at a 42.1-percent clip.
Chavez impressed the Jays during Spring Training, but the club ultimately went with veteran Michael Barrett as the backup on Opening Day. Barrett is currently rehabbing a right shoulder injury with Triple-A Las Vegas.
"He's done a great job," Gaston said of Chavez. "Like I've said, he really earned the right to be on this team from the start. We were just a little bit selfish in trying to keep all three of them. The way it turned out, it was probably a good thing for us and certainly a good thing for him."
Gaston also noted that the fact Halladay was on the mound on Monday played a role in giving Barajas the start. Halladay, who missed the past two weeks with a mild right groin strain, entered the outing with a 10-1 record and a 2.53 ERA in 14 starts -- each with Barajas behind the plate.
"I don't like to get where you've got one guy catching one guy," Gaston said, "but he's caught Doc most of this year. Yeah, that would be one of the reasons [he's starting], too -- keep him with Doc as much as you can. It's certainly got nothing to do with Chavez, because he's a good catcher, too. They've just been together the whole year, so I try to keep them together if I can."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.