Snider ready to get into everyday rhythm
Blue Jays' young slugger struggled in platoon role last season
ARLINGTON -- Travis Snider takes comfort in knowing that his name will appear on the lineup card on a regular basis to begin this season. A year ago, the young Blue Jays left fielder struggled with learning how to adjust to a part-time role -- something he no longer worries about.
"It's going to be a great experience for me," Snider said. "I'm very thankful for the opportunity, and I'm definitely excited to get into that everyday rhythm and have a chance to see righties as well as lefties and just get out there and have a chance to help your team win every day."
This is the second consecutive season that Snider has been included on Toronto's Opening Day roster, though he was in a platoon situation with Jose Bautista to begin the 2009 campaign. Snider got off to a fast start last year, but he began to labor offensively, especially in the few situations where he ran into left-handed pitching.
"For somebody who hasn't played in that type of role before, it was a bit of an adjustment," said Snider, who hit .225 against left-handed pitchers in '09. "I don't think it's any kind of excuse for my performance, but it's something where you have to learn what to do on those off-days when you know you're not playing -- making sure you have a solid routine, which I struggled with last year."
Before the end of last May, the Blue Jays sent the 22-year-old Snider back to Triple-A Las Vegas to work on various issues. Adjusting to a platoon role was one of many factors that contributed to Snider's struggles, and Toronto will not place him in a similar situation this year. Snider is considered to be a big part of the club's future, and manager Cito Gaston wants him in the lineup every day.
"We would not have brought him here with us if we thought that we were going to platoon him," Gaston said. "That's just not the way. We'd send him out [to the Minors] before that happens."
Snider is appreciative of the opportunity.
"Coming in this year," Snider said, "it's more something that I'm accustomed to, coming to the field every day knowing you're going to be in there and getting that opportunity. I know I'm going to have some days off against some tough lefties, but I'm excited to have this chance to go out there and be an everyday guy."
Gaston won't pinch-hit for Overbay
ARLINGTON -- Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston has handed first baseman Lyle Overbay an everyday role with the club. Gaston feels strongly that such a decision warrants leaving the left-handed hitter in the lineup during late-game situations for the foreseeable future.
"Let me tell you this right now," Gaston said, "Overbay is going to play against left-handers. So why would I pinch-hit for him? He's going to play against left-handers. So that ends that."
The issue was brought up due to a critical eighth-inning turn in Monday's 5-4 loss to the Rangers on Opening Day. With one out and the bases loaded, Texas called upon left-handed reliever Darren Oliver to face Overbay with the Jays clinging to a 4-3 lead. Gaston left the right-handed-hitting Randy Ruiz on the bench, and Overbay struck out for the inning's second out.
Overbay, who is eligible for free agency next winter, began last season in a platoon situation at first base and finished the season with a .190 average against left-handed pitching. This season, Gaston said he and general manager Alex Anthopoulos sat down with Overbay and informed the first baseman that he would receive regular playing time.
"We sat down and talked with Overbay," Gaston said. "[Suggesting I should pinch-hit for him] is like -- Why don't I pinch-hit for Vernon [Wells]? Why don't I pinch-hit for [Aaron] Hill? Why don't I pinch-hit for somebody like [Edwin] Encarnacion? That's what you're talking about right there.
"[Pinch -hitting] destroys guys. It's easy for you guys to say it or other people to think it, but to be with these guys every day, and every time they're looking over their shoulder, seeing if you're going to pinch hit for them, it just absolutely kills them -- unless it's understood, if it's understood from the start."
Hayhurst's book to debut as best seller
ARLINGTON -- Dirk Hayhurst was thrilled enough when he was able to have his book "The Bullpen Gospels" published. On Wednesday, the Blue Jays' pitcher learned that his recently-released tome will debut on the New York Times best-seller list for paperback non-fiction.
"This is so unreal. I'm at a loss for words," Hayhurst wrote in an e-mail. "Really, I just can't grasp it, its like a dream. I never thought I'd write a book. When I did, I thought just getting it published would be great. I mean, how many people can say they've experienced that? Now this? It's just overwhelming.
"People connect with my writing and that's the most flattering thing about it all, because let's face it, I'm not a big name. The story had to stand on its own two feet."
Hayhurst's book will debut at No. 19 on the New York Times' list, according to MSNBC's Keith Olbermann. The 29-year-old Hayhurst, who is currently on the 60-day disabled list with a right shoulder injury, has had columns previously published in Baseball America. His new book -- a comedic tale that includes dark and uplifting moments -- chronicles his 2007 season spent within the Padres' farm system.
Molina to start behind plate Thursday
ARLINGTON -- Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said Jose Molina will start behind the plate against the Rangers on Thursday afternoon, providing a glimpse of how Toronto plans on using its catchers this season. Gaston said the current plan calls for Molina to start in day games that follow a night game.
"I don't want to not give Molina a chance to catch every once in a while," Gaston said.
For the most part, John Buck will serve as the Blue Jays' everyday catcher, barring an occasional day off during the week to provide Molina with some extra playing time. It is a very similar rotation as the one implemented by Gaston with Rod Barajas and backup Raul Chavez a year ago.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.